Patrick will be attempting to set a new record when he tries
from Milwaukee to Chicago.
or need for risk varies by each personís innate personality,"
says Dr. Jennifer Heinemann, clinic director and psychologist at
Psychological Health Services in Brookfield. "Pair a need for
risk-taking with someone who likes to be outdoors and physical, and
you have extreme sports." What follows are the stories of two
people from the extreme edges of extreme sports.
At 2:30 a.m. on
Aug. 18, Jamie Patrick will enter the water at South Milwaukee Yacht
Club and begin a 71-mile, 42-consecutive-hour swim to Chicagoís Navy
Pier, the longest still-water swim in recorded history. "I like
to do marathon and adventure swims that have never been done
before," says Patrick, who lives outside of San Francisco. He was
a high school All-American swimmer and competed at the University of
it would be cool to swim between two iconic cities," he says.
calls "cool," most people would consider crazy. But this is
a relatively sane effort compared with some of his other exploits.
He has completed
15 Ironman triathalons and two Ultraman World Championships, where he
circumnavigated Hawaiiís Big Island with a 6-mile ocean swim; two
180-mile bike rides and a double marathon. In 2003, he finished a
Triple Ironman event in Virginia where he swam 7.2 miles, biked 336
and ran 78 miles during 46 straight hours.
developed a 6-inch blister on his foot during a marathon, had a race
doctor lance it, apply Krazy Glue, wrap his foot in duct tape and put
the shoe back on so Patrick could finish the race. He also spent three
days in the hospital after a double-crossing of Lake Tahoe.
Larsen recently completed his third trip to the North Pole.
hung up my running shoes and cycling helmet. It took up too much time.
And at some point my wife is going to put the brakes on," says
the 43-year-old Patrick. "The reason I am going for this record
now is I am over 40. I donít think Iíll ever quit swimming, but I
donít think Iím going to come back and go 80 miles the next
there is an endless list of places heíd like to swim but is focusing
on Chicago in August, training by swimming 60 to 75 miles a week,
including overnight sessions to get his body used to sleep
deprivation. Heís also securing sponsors because heíll need around
$50,000 to pay for his 14-person support team, which includes everyone
from sports psychologists to nutritionists. (Heíll eat every
half-hour during the swim with food sent to him by a rope-and-pulley
system attached to the team boat.)
always said swimming is a great sport you can do until the day you
die," he says. "Iíll do it forever."
While open water
is a thrilling sight for Patrick, it is the most daunting of vistas
for Eric Larsen. The Cedarburg native, who now lives in Colorado, is a
veteran arctic explorer, recently completing his third trip to the
North Pole. Along with his travel partner, Ryan Waters, Larsen trekked
480 miles in an American record time of 53 days. Due to vast stretches
of open water, the final portion of that treacherous journey was the
When his trip
started at Ellesmere Island, Larsen soon discovered he was in a league
of his own. "No one had completed a North Pole expedition since
the last one I did in 2010," he says. People ó my wife included
ó thought I was crazy to go back to this place."
For good reason.
Since this was an unsupported trip, which means no planes dropped
provisions along the route, Larsen and his partner pulled sleds
weighing 320 pounds, carrying nearly two months of supplies. At times,
the two men would team up to pull one sled for a mile, walk back and
pull the other sled. They skied, snowshoed and swam (the sleds are
designed to float) through some of the worst weather on the planet.
braved all of the elements because he felt this would be his last
chance to make this journey. "The weather is less stable,"
he says. "What we saw this year was consistently rougher ice
because the ice is thinner."
Larsen and his
partner arrived at the pole hungry, exhausted and with little fanfare
ó "thereís no marker at the spot." They celebrated
"by putting up the tent and going to sleep."
financially supports his travels through sponsors and by working as an
arctic guide and trainer, through speaking engagements and a small
video company. (Animal Planet is using footage from his last trip for
a documentary to air in early 2015.)
Larsen says one
of the hardest parts of this trip was leaving behind his wife, Maria,
and 18-month-old son, Merritt. Larsen, like Patrick, realizes he is
also a family man. (Patrick and his wife have a 4-year-old daughter.)
"There were a couple of times this last trip where I was truly
scared by conditions and with a couple of close encounters with polar
bears," Larsen says. "But taking those risks is part of who
I am. Iím trying to find a balance between those two things. But I
donít know if Iíll ever be able to do that."