Ford Employee and Family Swim in Five Great Lakes in One Day

How many people can say they swam in five Great Lakes in one day? Well, there’s at least four: Ford employee Bill Dean, his wife Kathy and children Tyler and Lindsay.

“We were heading up to the U.P. for vacation anyhow, so we decided to do it in style,” said Dean, senior engineer, Vehicle Integration. “I had read about someone else doing the same feat, but north to south. It’s a little crazy and unusual – mainly because there is no sensible reason to do it except for fun, which sometimes is the best reason of all.”

The family planned for a couple of weeks, mostly building a sign to identify the lakes as a photo prop at each stop. (The sign is still proudly displayed on the back deck at their home, Dean notes.)

The Deans are no strangers to road trips. They’ve been traveling all over the U.S. and parts of Canada, in two Taurus wagons, a Windstar and two Ford Edges, since Bill and Kathy’s youngest was 5 years old.

They don’t have plans for a do-over, but Dean says his daughter suggested they drive from Texas to California for a two-ocean challenge. “I really hope she was kidding,” he said. “I need to take away her map.”

For anyone thinking about making this trip, Dean suggests aiming for July, when the days are long and the water is warm. Below, check out Dean’s account of the trip in his own words.

 

The Dean Family International Five-Lake Challenge

(A completely made-up event)

July 15, 2012

Participants:  Four

Vehicle:  Ford Edge

 

 

1: Lake Ontario

Confederation Park,

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada - A stone’s throw from Oakville, where our Edge was assembled!

Time: 7 a.m.

Conditions: Brisk.

Shoreline: A bit rocky.

Team mood: Also a bit rocky.

Water temperature: Doesn’t matter.

Braving the early morning chill, our participants made a slow approach to the lake; someone dipped in a toe, then all four eventually submerged beneath the surface (per our made-up rules), then a quick exit, obligatory photo on the shoreline, dry-off, and then on to breakfast.

A local resident sat nearby reading the Sunday paper. He never looked up.

ONE LAKE COMPLETED

Our Ford Edge now plays its part (it would be doing most all of the work today). A 75-km, zigzag route through the farmlands of Ontario takes us to our next stop…

 

2. Lake Erie

Local Beach,

Port Dover, Ontario.

Time: 10 a.m.

Conditions: Drizzle.

Water Temperature: Still don’t care.

The soggy weather helps – no one is using the beach. We park in spot #1, close to the lake. Ten minutes later we have been in and out of the water, taken our photo, and even chatted with some locals, who spotted our sign. They approved of our Five-Lake Challenge!

TWO LAKES COMPLETED

Back in the Edge, now heading northwest. Stopped for lunch, had a nice meal, but spent far too much time, which we would later regret. 

Heading west on the 402, with 200 km until our next lake. A huge east-bound storm collided with us head-on, and forced us off the road twice. The soaking was complete – a Canadian car wash!

But soon our Edge delivered us safely to…

3. Lake Huron

Canatara Beach,

Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

Time: 2 p.m.

Conditions: Improving.

Shoreline: Deserted.

Water: Surf’s up!

Only after we took our swim did we notice the red “NO SWIMMING” flag was up – due to the prior storm.

OOPS! Sorry, lifeguards. We’re on a mission. A quick photo, and change of clothes, and we were off.

THREE LAKES COMPLETED

3. Lake Huron

Canatara Beach,

Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

Time: 2 p.m.

Conditions: Improving.

Shoreline: Deserted.

Water: Surf’s up!

Only after we took our swim did we notice the red “NO SWIMMING” flag was up – due to the prior storm.

OOPS! Sorry, lifeguards. We’re on a mission. A quick photo, and change of clothes, and we were off.

THREE LAKES COMPLETED

Please note how our “Ford Blue” sign grows with each lake completed. This is a well-prepared team! Now we face our most daunting leg – two long bridges and more than 300 miles. No problem. As the team rests, the Edge takes over and heads due north to…

3. Lake Huron

Canatara Beach,

Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

Time: 2 p.m.

Conditions: Improving.

Shoreline: Deserted.

Water: Surf’s up!

Only after we took our swim did we notice the red “NO SWIMMING” flag was up – due to the prior storm.

OOPS! Sorry, lifeguards. We’re on a mission. A quick photo, and change of clothes, and we were off.

THREE LAKES COMPLETED

Please note how our “Ford Blue” sign grows with each lake completed. This is a well-prepared team! Now we face our most daunting leg – two long bridges and more than 300 miles. No problem. As the team rests, the Edge takes over and heads due north to…

3. Lake Huron

Canatara Beach,

Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

Time: 2 p.m.

Conditions: Improving.

Shoreline: Deserted.

Water: Surf’s up!

Only after we took our swim did we notice the red “NO SWIMMING” flag was up – due to the prior storm.

OOPS! Sorry, lifeguards. We’re on a mission. A quick photo, and change of clothes, and we were off.

THREE LAKES COMPLETED

Please note how our “Ford Blue” sign grows with each lake completed. This is a well-prepared team! Now we face our most daunting leg – two long bridges and more than 300 miles. No problem. As the team rests, the Edge takes over and heads due north to…

3. Lake Huron

Canatara Beach,

Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

Time: 2 p.m.

Conditions: Improving.

Shoreline: Deserted.

Water: Surf’s up!

Only after we took our swim did we notice the red “NO SWIMMING” flag was up – due to the prior storm.

OOPS! Sorry, lifeguards. We’re on a mission. A quick photo, and change of clothes, and we were off.

THREE LAKES COMPLETED

Please note how our “Ford Blue” sign grows with each lake completed. This is a well-prepared team! Now we face our most daunting leg – two long bridges and more than 300 miles. No problem. As the team rests, the Edge takes over and heads due north to…

4. Lake Michigan

Random beach along Highway 2,

Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Time: 7 p.m.

Conditions: Beautiful.

Shoreline: Pure Michigan.

Water: Warm and shallow – sand bar stretching out 200 yards.

We had the beach to ourselves, the water was warm, and we lost track of the time. Such a nice day.

FOUR LAKES COMPLETED!

Uh-oh. We need to make up some time now – thankfully our Edge is up to the challenge. We are now in a race! The sun is dropping toward the horizon, and we are 60 miles from the finish line.

And… We made it! Just in time, we arrive at…

5. Lake Superior

Brimley State Park

Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Time: 9 p.m.

Conditions: Sun is setting.

Team Mood: Ecstatic.

Shoreline: Can’t see it.

Water Temperature: COLD but feels like Victory.

 

Totals for the day:

Countries: 2

Lakes: 5

Hours: 14

Miles: 600           

A completely ridiculous and worthwhile event:  Swim in all five Great Lakes in one day.

FIVE LAKES COMPLETED!

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