Jim Moran Lake Michigan Swim

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Jim Moran giving final instructions to the 36 swimmers in the 7th Annual 10-mile Jim Moran Lake Michigan Swim Challenge on 1 July 1963. Courtesy of the Tribune Newspaper
Mayor Eugene Hammond of Kenosha, Wisconsin with Kenneth Lasauskas of Chicago, Jim Moran and swimmer Dennis Matuch of Chicago promoting the 6th Annual Jim Moran Lake Michigan Swim Challenge of 7 May 1962. Courtesy of the Tribune Newspaper
Ted Erikson in the water at the 1961 Jim Moran Lake Michigan Swims, with his wife, Loretta sits in the boat rowed by lifeguard Dick Shiman. Courtesy of the Tribune Newspaper
The Jim Moran Lake Michigan Swims was a series of professional marathon swims in Lake Michigan in the early 1960s. The longest swim challenge was held on August 2-24, 1963 when Abdul Latif Abou Heif of Egypt, an International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer, beat Ted Erikson in a 60-mile (96.5 km) from Chicago, Illinois to Benton Harbor-St. Joseph, Michigan in 34 hours 38 minutes. Erikson, also an International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer, was the only other swimmer, finishing the same 60-mile (96.5 km) swim in 37 hours and 31 minutes.

Inspiration

"It wasn'’t until the late 1950s and early 1960s that the lake crossing idea really caught on, and much of the credit for that can be laid at the flippered feet of car salesman, Jim "The Courtesy Man" Moran." From the Chicago Tribune.

Jim Moran

Jim Moran was the recipient of the International Swimming Hall of Fame Gold Medallion Award in 1995.

He was born in Chicago in 1918. In 1939, Moran was able to purchase his own station for $360. After a number of years of working at a gas station, 16 hours a day, seven days a week, he opened a used car lot. This led to a small Hudson automobile dealership which he built to become the largest Hudson store in the Nation. In 1966, Moranestablished Courtesy Ford and through his marketing and promotion innovations, it grew to become the largest Ford dealership in the world.

In the early years of television, Moran was the first dealer to ever advertise new and used cars on television. At one time, he sponsored three live shows a week, handling the host duties and all live commercials himself. Throughout the Midwest viewers tuned in and bought cars from "Jim Moran, the Courtesy Man."

But Moran also gave a great deal back to the people of his community. For many years he donated countless hours to organize and host fund-raising telethons for charities such as the City of Hope, the American Cancer Society, and the Heart Fund.

It was during this time that swimming became a part of Jim's life. When he was 41 years old, two of his close friends died of heart attacks while playing handball, one of Moran's favorite activities. His wife feared that handball was too stressful and encouraged him to quit playing. He began swimming instead and has continued to swim regularly ever since.

As Jim's interest in swimming grew, he sponsored the Jim Moran Lake Michigan Swims for seven years in Chicago. It not only promoted long distance and marathon swimming, but generated a tremendous amount of publicity for his automobile dealership. Long distance swimmers, including the legendary Abou Heif of Egypt, came from all over the world to swim for prizes that ranged up to $25,000.00. The race was front page news, and local television and radio stations provided hourly updates on the swimmers' progress.

The 1960's brought a move to South Florida, where Moran opened a Pontiac dealership in Hollywood. Once again, this soon became the largest Pontiac dealership in the nation. In 1968, Moran accepted an offer to represent the Toyota Motor Company in five southeast states and formed Southeast Toyota Distributors. Today, it is the largest, private automobile distributor in the world and is one of 19 auto related companies comprising JM Family Enterprises.

Moran's company was recently ranked by Forbes Magazine as the 34th largest privately owned company in the United States. He works daily at his duties as chairman of the board, and JM Family Enterprises remains very active in community organizations, helping those in need throughout the Southeast.

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