As his father Ted was getting interested in open water swimming, he took his son to swimming lessons with Chicago Park District’s Ridge Park program. The boy’s rapid progression led him to follow in his father’s wake as a great marathon swimmer.
Unlike most athletes, Jon Erikson started at the top. His first marathon swim was the crossing of the English Channel at the age of 14. He emerged on the shores of France, as the youngest boy to complete a successful crossing on August 12, 1969. His first crossing of the channel took 11 hours and 22 minutes.
After his initial channel swim, Jon swam a record 37 mile Lake Michigan, Chicago to Michigan City, on August 21, 1971, in 25 hours, 22 minutes, which was 12 hours under his Dad’s swim, 10 years earlier.
In 1975, Jon swam a world record English Channel double crossing on August 13-15 (England-France-England) in 30 hours, 3 minutes, again under the mark his father set 10 years earlier. In 1976, Jon made the inaugural crossing Grand Anse to Paspebiac (Canada’s Chaleur Bay), 14 miles of 53 degree water in 8 hours, 46 minutes. In 1977, he did a double crossing of Chaleur Bay, 30 miles on August 13, in 16 hours and 4 minutes.
Jon says his ‘dream of accomplishing a major athletic challenge, something that had never been done before by another human being, made the culmination of all his years of swimming worthwhile and uniquely meaningful.” That dream was realized in 1981, when he became the first person to complete a three-way crossing of the English Channel with a time of 38 hours, 27 minutes. On this historic event, he was accompanied by his father, Ted Erikson and his trainer, Rosemary George.
Once he had met his goal of completing the English Channel triple, he retired. It was his 31st marathon swim; nothing else would ever compare to that feeling he had, knowing he was the first person ever to complete a triple crossing.