Story at a glance

  • A Chicago man dubbed “The Great Lake Jumper” reportedly dove into Lake Michigan every day for an entire year as a part of his plan to reduce stress caused by the pandemic.
  • "It felt like a breath of fresh air just arriving at the lake and then to be able to jump into a Great Lake with a beautiful skyline, it just felt real peaceful,” O'Conor told Insider.
  • "It felt like somewhere where I could go and wipe the day clean and start anew," he added.

A Chicago man dubbed "The Great Lake Jumper" reportedly dove into Lake Michigan every day for an entire year as a part of his plan to reduce stress caused by the pandemic. 

Dan O’Connor told Business Insider that his yearlong journey began when he was hungover and went for a bike ride along the lake before deciding to jump in. 

"It felt like a breath of fresh air just arriving at the lake and then to be able to jump into a Great Lake with a beautiful skyline, it just felt real peaceful," O'Connor told Insider.


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"Almost like I was able to go down there and get a few moments to zen when there was all this chaos happening in America with the pandemic, with the protests happening June, with politics ramping up for an election," O'Connor added. "It felt like somewhere where I could go and wipe the day clean and start anew."

O’Connor’s stubbornness made him a sensation as blustery Chicago winters convinced other locals he could not sustain his run during the freezing cold months — although he did have to make adjustments, like driving his car to the lake and bringing others along.  

"I think it's part of my personality that when people tell you, you can't do things and it's like, why not me?" O'Conor said. "Like, why can't I? And I've been called crazy, alone, and a psycho for most of my life. It's like, who are you to say that I can't. It's almost a challenge."

O'Conor said he tried to make the trip as safe as possible, always bringing along another person to make sure he was safe. 

Friends and various groups eventually joined O’Connor in his apparently therapeutic daily plunge. 

"I had a friend who hit a rough patch and he came down probably around Thanksgiving. He probably came down five times with me to jump in,” O’Connor told Insider. “I think the healingness of jumping into the water just is really underrated. I think I've underused, underutilized a great lake that's right in our backyard.”


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Published on Jun 14, 2021