Man aborts world record swim across Lake Michigan

Not all of the world's great swimmers have been in Rio over the last few weeks. One of them tried to fulfill a lifelong dream on Lake Michigan.

“Even as a child growing up a about a mile and a half from Lake Michigan, I've always had the dreams of swimming across the lake,” said Scott Wolford.

By noon Friday, Wolford was hoping to have been half way towards a new  record for unassisted marathon swimming. Instead, he was on a beach near his Chesterton, Indiana home talking about what might have been.

“I had tears in my eyes, you know, when I was floating in the water, making the decision, to climb out on my own, it was completely my decision,” Wolford said.

Wolford's swim began at 5 a.m. Thursday off Navy Pier. Accompanied by a boat, his goal was to swim to Saint Joseph's Michigan and back, which is about 120 miles. The crew could supply the 51-year-old swimmer with nourishment and medications, but marathon rules prohibited Wolford from touching them or  the boat.

He expected the swim would take 60 to 70 hours, nonstop, without any sleep. But by late afternoon, a thunderstorm was causing major concerns.

“It just came out of nowhere. I mean, when he came back to the boat, it hadn't frightened him at all. But it frightened the life out of me,” said crew chief Annabel Lavers.

By 8 pm, about 15 hours into his swim, Wolford had covered just 18 and a half miles and he realized he wasn't going to achieve his goal. At least, not this time.

Wolford said he got nauseous during the swim, due to rough waves. He is driven, he says, by a desire to prove himself after years of competitive swimming where he wasn't usually the  gold medal winner.

“Since I wasn't the fastest, and I wanted to leave a mark in swimming, I figured I would go ahead and be the first, because that could never be taken away from me,” Wolford said.

Yesterday's swim raised dollars for clean water groups. Wolford says he'd like to give it another go, but probably not until next summer.

During his marathon swims, Wolford says he lets his mind drift and feeds every hour or so on foods ranging from crabmeat and crackers to chocolates.