It has been over a year since the Lincoln Square artist first took the plunge.
On June 13, 2020, Dan ‘Conor, an artist from Lincoln Square, got up one morning and decided he would cycle down to Lake Michigan and jump in to clear his head.
O’Conor was feeling the stress from a relentless coronavirus storm. COVID-19 had been wreaking havoc through the United States for months and Chicago was trying to get back on its feet. Then in May civil unrest swept the country as George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked outcry and riots. O’Conor’s clothing company had begun losing huge business and everything was feeling apocalyptic.
To top it all off O’Conor had a terrible hangover and all the chaos happening around the nation was too much. So, as you do, Dan grabbed his bike, cycled to the lake, walked along the wall near Montrose Harbor, and jumped in. What began as a spontaneous decision became a daily occurrence that Dan decided he would keep going as long as he could. Days became weeks and weeks became months and then sure enough yesterday Dan O’Connor plunged into Lake Michigan for the 365th time in a row and achieved his one-year milestone.
A while after jumping in Dan O’Conor began documenting that his routine on Twitter and social media channels claiming it is “almost meditative “for him. But as he persevered through the freezing Midwest winter, challenges inevitably came his way. According to him, several occasions nearly forced him to break his run. One morning a low-flying helicopter circled a dangerous choppy shore and fire officials were parked at his usual spot. About to turn around a 70-year-old man casually walked over, undressed, and dived in inspiring O’Conor to keep his streak alive.
At first, he had planned to keep his streak going for as long as possible but expected it to draw to a close as the lake began to freeze. Instead, O’Conor kept it up, attesting that it was actually warmer in the lake than out of late on many days of winter, even if he had to break a lot of ice in the process.
As the jumping became a daily occurrence Dan began contacting other locals to join him in his routine or perform as he did it. What followed was all manner of artists providing accompanying music whilst Dan plunged in. These ranged from solo a capella performances to full bands with entire drum kits assembled together on the lakeside.
It’s not the first time Dan O’Conor has been in the news. When Chicago Cubs won the National League Championship Series and World Series back in 2016 Fox cameras gave O’Conor his five minutes of fame. Sporting a hand-stenciled Cubs jacket as handlebar mustache the cameras caught O’Conor wagging his index finger to signal the Cubs were one out away from their first World Series title in 108 years. He quickly became a symbol of the Cubs’ wait. His wife claimed he was getting more screen time than John Cusack at the time.
Have a scroll through some of our highlights of Dan O’Conor’s wonderfully documented one year jumping into Lake Michigan:
[Featured Image Screenshot from Twitter @TheRealDtox]