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Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Swim logo

The Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Swim presents epic, once-in-a-lifetime experiences for up to 68 swimmers to be part of history, play a role in a documentary film, and swim where no one has ever swum before and may never swim again.     

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The year 2025 marks 50 years since the Edmund Fitzgerald, bound for Detroit with over 26,000 tons of iron ore, went down in that horrific 1975 Lake Superior storm, taking 29 souls with her.  Immortalized in Gordon Lightfoot’s Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, this has become the world's most famous shipwreck not named Titanic.

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Painting of Edmund Fitzgerald in storm

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of this historic maritime tragedy and to pay tribute to the 29 lost mariners, open water swimmers will carry on their legacy with a 17-stage, 411-mile relay swim from Lake Superior to Detroit.  Participating swimmers will symbolically complete the intended route and cargo delivery that the Edmund Fitzgerald was tragically unable to complete on that fateful night 50 years ago, by passing between them iron ore pellets from the same dock in Superior, Wisconsin, where the ship took on its last load.

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Swimmers will raise funds for the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS) to preserve the Whitefish Point Light Station, a most important beacon for all vessels entering or leaving Lake Superior since 1849, and the oldest operating lighthouse on the lake.  In a most unfortunate irony, the lighthouse went dark due to a power outage and was no help to the Edmund Fitzgerald the night she lost her radar and ultimately lost her battle to the raging storm.  

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Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunities

Once-in-a-Lifetime Experiences!

Only four swimmers will participate in each of the 17 swim stages.  Therefore, there is a limit of 68 who may be a part of this important mission.  The mission ahead is filled with impactful experiences, creating memories you will want to share for a lifetime.  Following are event highlights sure to become the subject of lore!

  • Edmund Fitzgerald Wreck Site:  The first stage of the swim is tentatively planned to start from above the Edmund Fitzgerald wreck, where swimmers ceremoniously leave a memorial to the crew resting below.  The Edmund Fitzgerald is a gravesite, so starting the swim here requires obtaining a special permit, as even boats are usually forbidden to pass over the wreck.  This will be an honor indeed for these four swimmers to partake in this respectful and moving tribute. 

Drawing of Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck site

Following the poignant ceremony, it is a 17-mile relay swim to the lighthouse and Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point.  Captain Ernest McSorley was desperately trying to cover these same 17 miles to reach the shelter of Whitefish Bay when the ship went down.

*  Permit approval is pending at this time.  Stage 1 may be waitlisted.

Photo of freighters in Soo Locks
  • Swim the St Marys River through Sault Ste. Marie: The third stage may allow you the chance to safely get up close and personal with massive freighters on either side of the Soo Locks.  No, you will not be able to swim through the locks.  Believe me, we tried to make that "first" a reality.  Although you will need to board your support boat to go through the lock, it is safe to say that this is still a first-of-its-kind swimming experience!

  • Epic Crossings:  Swim a relay from the site of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum across Whitefish Bay (stage 2), across Lake Huron between Michigan's peninsulas (stage 6), across the mouth of Saginaw Bay (stage 11), or across Lake St. Clair to the finish at Belle Isle in Detroit (stage 17)

Photo of swimmer looking over horizon
Photo of Blue Water Bridge
  • Swim Length of St. Clair River:  Cross under the Blue Water Bridge from Lake Huron, then ride the brisk current while swimming the entire length of the St. Clair River as a relay (stage 16).

  • March to Mariners’ Church of Detroit:  The final four swimmers finishing at Belle Isle Beach in Detroit will present our delivery of iron ore to receiving dignitaries.  Then, all Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Swim participants and their guests will be invited to lead a tentatively scheduled march from the finish line to the Mariners’ Church of Detroit. In a memorial service, the church bell will be rung 29 times for each crew member of the Edmund Fitzgerald, just as it was 50 years ago.

Photo of Detroit Belle Isle Beach

NOTE:  The Mariners' Church of Detroit memorial service is confirmed, but permits are still pending for the march.

Photo of Jim Dreyer ringing Edmund Fitzgerald bell
  • 50th Anniversary Event at Shipwreck Museum:  All swimmers and guests are invited to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum for the 50th Anniversary Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Event on the afternoon of November 10, 2025.  All swimmers will receive special recognition from the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society.  In addition, top fundraisers will receive other special honors and awards.  Stay tuned for more details.  We are excited to tell you about this!

Jim DreyerEvent Director of the Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Swim, rings the ship's bell at the 30th anniversary Edmund Fitzgerald memorial event on November 10, 2005, three months after swimming across Lake Superior.

  • Film Project:  The Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Swim will be the subject of a documentary film, preserving the legacy of the 29 crew members and capturing your participation in this historic event for all of posterity.

Be one of the swimmers to star in the dramatic sequel to the film below!

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