Dan Projansky (also known as Mr. Butterfly), is a 59-year-old American extreme ultra-marathon swimmer from Grayslake, Illinois who does butterfly on his open water swims including the 8.2-mile (13.2 km) Swim4Freedom event in Geneva Lake, Wisconsin, and the 36 mile Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test (END-WET) in the Red River.
Butterfly Open Water Swims
- The 5'-6", 160-lb mild-mannered banker from the northwest side of Chicago, Projansky typically swims 6 or 7 miles of butterfly in a typical week in order to train for races between 5 km - 10 km.
- His all-butterfly swims include the 8.2-mile swim in Geneva Lake in Wisconsin to raise money for The Special Operations Warrior Foundation. He also finished 9 of the 12.5 miles in the FKCC Swim Around Key West in Florida.
- Among his longest non-stop butterfly swims was the 36-mile END-WET completed on 21 June 2014 in 12 hours 2 minutes and on 20 June 2015 in 15 hours 22 minutes, both times wearing a rash guard.
- He completed the 2012 27-mile (43 km) Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test (END-WET) in the Red River (Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA) on 21 July 2012 in 14 hours 30 minutes.
- He completed the 2013 END-WET marathon swim doing all butterfly in 11 hours 0 minutes.
- He completed another all-butterfly swim at the 2014 36-mile END-WET.
- He competed in the 2014 S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge in Arizona where he finished the 9.5-mile Saguaro Lake leg all butterfly.
- He completed 15 miles of the 2016 END-WET marathon swim doing all butterfly.
- He completed a solo 12.5 km butterfly marathon swim at the age of 57.
2012 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year Nomination
Projansky's 27-mile Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test all butterfly was nominated for the 2012 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year awards. His World Open Water Swimming Association nomination reads,
It takes power. It takes guts. It takes strength from the shoulders to the abs. It is dramatic as the body is propelled out and forward in the water. Butterfly is the most unforgiving and difficult of all swimming techniques in the open water. But Dan Projansky is powerful, strong and dramatic. After doing butterfly 9-miler at Swim4Freedom, Projansky was interested to see how far he could possibly take his butterfly goals. With a year of mental, physical and logistical preparation, he set his goal to complete the Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test (END-WET) without once breaking his stroke. Extreme is an understatement as the 27-mile (43 km) race in North Dakota and Minnesota took the Chicagoan 14 hours 30 minutes. For his double-arm stamina, for his enthusiasm to push his boundaries at physiological and psychological levels, for his full marathon of butterfly, Dan Projansky’s END-WET butterfly swim is a worthy nominee for the 2012 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
2014 World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men
Projansky was named to the 2014 list of the World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men determined by the World Open Water Swimming Association. The honorees are presented alphabetically by their last name.
1. Nick Adams, channel/marathon swimmer from England
2. Antonio Argüelles Díaz-González from Mexico
3. Cyril Baldock, marathon/channel swimmer from Australia
4. Peter Bales, escort pilot in Cape Town, South Africa
5. Ram Barkai, ice swimmer from South Africa
6. Nejib Belhedi, marathon/stage swimmer from Tunisia
7. Vito Bialla, escort pilot of the Farallon Islands, California, USA
8. Alexander Brylin, channel ice swimmer from Russia
9. Bruckner Chase, marathon/extreme swimmer from California, USA
10. Andrew Chin, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
11. Salvatore Cimmino, amputee/marathon swimmer from Italy
12. Phil Cutti, extreme/relay swimmer from California, USA
13. Ned Denison, marathon/ice swimmer from Ireland
14. Marcos Díaz, marathon/adventure/charity swimmer from the Dominican Republic
15. Craig Dietz, open water swimmer from Pennsylvania, USA
16. Ted Erikson, channel/marathon/professional swimmer from Illinois, USA
17. Sylvain Estadieu, marathon/channel/butterfly swimmer from France
18. Christopher Green, marathon swimmer from England
19. Rafael Gutiérrez Mesa, escort pilot/governing body president from Spain
20. Colin Hill, ice/channel swimmer and event director from England
21. Henri Kaarma, ice swimmer from Estonia
22. Craig Lenning, marathon/channel/ice swimmer from Colorado, USA
23. Joseph Locke, marathon/channel swimmer from California, USA
24. Pádraig Mallon, marathon/channel/ice swimmer from Ireland
25. Vojislav Mijić, marathon swimmer/event director from Serbia
26. Darren Miller, Oceans Seven swimmer and event director from Pennsylvania, USA
27. Kevin Murphy, renowned marathon/channel swimmer from England
28. Forrest Nelson, marathon/channel swimmer and governing body president from California, USA
29. Matías Ola, ice/extreme swimmer from Argentina
30. Michael Oram, renowned escort pilot in the English Channel
31. Kieron Palframan, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
32. Jamie Patrick, marathon/extreme swimmer from California, USA
33. James Pittar, blind marathon/channel/extreme swimmer from Australia
34. Claudio Plit, marathon/channel/professional swimmer from Argentina
35. Dan Projansky, marathon/extreme swimmer from Illinois, USA
36. Lewis Pugh OIG, endurance swimmer/ocean advocate from UK
37. Michael Read MBE, renowned marathon/channel swimmer from England
38. Stephen Redmond, Oceans Seven swimmer from Ireland
39. Philip Rush, marathon/channel/professional swimmer and Cook Strait escort from New Zealand
40. Mike Spalding, channel/marathon swimmer from Hawaii, USA
41. Petar Stoychev, marathon/channel/Olympic swimmer from Bulgaria
42. Ryan Stramrood, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
43. Martin Strel, marathon/stage swimmer from Slovenia
44. Dr. Otto Thaning, channel/marathon swimmer from South Africa
45. Toks Viviers, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
46. Adam Walker, Oceans Seven swimmer and coach from England
47. Christof Wandratsch, ice/marathon/channel/professional swimmer from Germany
48. Brenton Williams, butterfly/ocean swimmer from South Africa [in photo above by Clive Wright]
49. Theodore Yach, marathon/channel swimmer from Cape Town, South Africa
50. John York, marathon/channel swimmer from California, USA
Open Water Source: How does a 10 km butterfly feel in the open water?
Projansky: During the 10 km, after the race, my lower part of my spine, by my butt, hurts a little. Every so often my biceps hurt, but it's usually only after I complete my training. I am very fortunate in that my shoulders are quite limber.
Open Water Source: What is your average workout like?
Projansky: I'm doing indoor training now in the winter here in Chicago. I swim all butterfly each time I hit the health club or the Lake Geneva Wisconsin YMCA. I usually swim for two and half hours or so. One morning each week, I get out of bed at 3:20 am and get to the LifeTime Fitness Club in Skokie, Illinois and swim from 3:50 am to about 5:45 or 5:50. I know it's pretty much about 3.75 miles or so. The toughest part is making it through the day at work. I look at this as mental training; because the 8 miler in Wisconsin [that I will do this summer] will certainly test me mentally. During the summers I train at Fontana, Wisconsin. There I swim from pier to pier and just go back and forth. Each length might be about 200 meters or so, maybe longer. I also swim in Lake Michigan and the beaches here in Evanston, Illinois. I like training in chop and waves because I feel it's the best way for me to complete open water training. I dedicate my indoor gym workouts to butterfly swimming, too. I specifically target muscles for the stroke and I have been doing this for many years.
Open Water Source: That is not normal.
Projansky: Yes I know, I'm a total whack job.
Open Water Source: What are your plans for this summer?
Projansky: I am training for a 8-mile swim in Wisconsin this August. It will be a direct shot across Lake Geneva, which is one of the deepest lakes in the state. It is being put on for a fund-raising event to raise money for kids of parents who were killed in the war, called Swim4Freedom.
Open Water Source: Are you ready for it?
Projansky: My longest swim was the Coastal Crawl in Lake Michigan last summer. I did that all butterfly in 4 hours and 18 minutes, but I wore a shortie wetsuit. For the 8-mile Swim4Freedom, I will wear either a speed suit or just a Speedo. I will be 52 years old this August, so I am not sure if that makes me the oldest butterfly swimmer to ever try something like this. I know there is another guy here in Illinois who swims the 5K Big Shoulders swim all butterfly every September.
Open Water Source: How did you feel about it?
Projansky: I would say the 10 km butterfly was my ultimate athletic achievement. It's a gut-check in the lake. I received a standing ovation from the volunteers and spectators; all the kayakers surrounded me in a circle," he said. "It was pretty motivational and overwhelmed me on a personal level.
Open Water Source: How many of these all-butterfly open water swims have you done?
Projansky: Six. If I stopped doing butterfly, I would get in a boat and call it a day.
Open Water Source: Why butterfly?
Projansky: In the late 1990s and early part of this decade, I was becoming frustrated with my freestyle. I'm a competitive person and I'm very hard on myself. Why do all this swimming and be upset about it? At one point in my mid 40s, I had to reinvent myself. At the Big Shoulders race in Chicago, I noticed someone swimming all butterfly, so I decided to try that. I tried it and was immediately hooked and intrigued by the challenge.
Open Water Source: Do you do anything special to prepare, other than 3:50 am workouts?
Projansky: I've worked single-mindfully in training to target the correct muscles. My endurance base from the triathlons helps me and I have a strong upper body. My arms are flexible and I can stretch out and be taller in the water. All those things help.
Open Water Source: It is obvious that you enjoy butterfly...
Projansky: I don't know what drives me to do it. I've developed a smooth rhythm and it relaxes me. When you're in the open water, you can see the fish, the plants and the sun come up. There's nothing like it.
Photo above shows Projansky at the 2009 10K Coastal Crawl in Harbor Springs, Michigan courtesy of the Pioneer Local.
2015 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year Nominee
1. Andreas Fath (Germany) Swim for Science
2. Andrea Fazio (Italy) Like Father, Like Son
3. Christian Reichert (Germany) FINA World Cup Champion
4. Dan Projansky (U.S.A.) Butterflying Marathoner
5. Jim Clifford (U.S.A.) Oldest Triple Crowner
6. Fast and Frozen by Henri Kaarma (Estonia), Ryan Stramrood (South Africa), Anna Carin-Nordin (Sweden), Patrick Corcoran (Ireland), Zdeněk Thalmika (Czech Republic), Elina Makïnen (Finland) Two-way North Channel Relay
7. Ganga Avahan by by Paramvir Singh, Gullupilli Narahari, Saripilli Srihari (India) Stage Swimmers
8. Jordan Wilimovsky (U.S.A.) Olympian & World Champion
9. Kelly Gneiting (U.S.A.) Sumo Swimmer
10. Kimberley Chambers (New Zealand) Farallon Freestyler
11. Matthew Moseley (U.S.A.) Trifecta Lake-Ocean-River Swimmer
12. Mike Arbuthnot (South Africa) Midmar Mile Founder
13. Nejib Belhedi (Tunisia) Camel Swim
14. Night Train Swimmers by Grace van der Byl, Dave Holscher, Kimberley Chambers, Adam Eilath, Ashley Horne, Vito Bialla (U.S.A./New Zealand) NT300 Relay
15. Oceans Seven Relay by Rick Gaenzle, Chris Kraus, Brian Ross (U.S.A.) Triumphant Trio
16. Susan Simmons (Canada) Swimming with Multiple Sclerosis
17. Swim The Eden Expedition by Calum Hudson, Jack Hudson, Robbie Hudson (Great Britain) Brotherly Wild Swim
18. Team Nadadores Locos by Amy Appelhans Gubser, Kirk McKinney, Les Mangold, John Sims, Jeff Everett, Andrew McLaughlin (U.S.A.) Two-way Farallon Islands Relay
19. The Old Men And The Sea Relay by Don Baker, Dr. Bill Spore, Dave Radcliffe, Graham Johnston, Bob Best, Bob Beach, Norm Stupfel (U.S.A.) Catalina Cruisers
20. The Deep Enders by Jim McConica, Tom Ball, John Chung, Zach Jirkovsky, Tamie Stewart, Stacey Warmuth (U.S.A.) San Nicholas Channelers
21. Theodore Yach (South Africa) Robben Island Swimmer
22. Trent Theroux (U.S.A.) Comeback Circumnavigation
23. Wendy Trehiou (Jersey) Saint Malo to Jersey
2015 WOWSA Award Nomination
Projansky's 2015 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year nomination reads as follows:
Dan Projansky (U.S.A.) Butterflying Marathoner
Dan Projansky has been flying for much of his adult life. His latest butterfly effort was a 36-mile (57.9 km) 15 hour 22 minute down the Red River between North Dakota and Minnesota. The mild-mannered banker from Chicago trains butterfly in a pool just like his races in the open water - straight, non-stop, uninterrupted double-arm pull with a steady dolphin kick. For his freshwater butterfly effort in muddied waters, for his 15+ hours of non-stop butterfly, and for his love of the toughest, roughest stroke on the planet, Dan Projansky's END-WET swim is a worthy nominee for the 2015 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
- Re-invention Through Butterfly, Making Up For Lost Time
- Marathon Swimmers Forum listing of some of Dan's swims
- World Open Water Swimming Association
- Open Water Swimming website
- Daily News of Open Water Swimming
- Marathon Swimming
- Flying In The Other Water 2/6/2010
- Dan Projansky Swimming 4 Freedom (annually 2010-2016)
- Dan Projansky In The Wall Street Journal 6/1/2010
- Swimming World Mag - Butterfly + Marathon Swims = Mission Possible 3/12/2012
- When Women Achieve, Men Believe 3/10/2012
- Don't Wait To The END 2/1/2012
- Swimmers Head to END to Mighty Red River 5/11/2012
- Dan Projansky Shoulders A 26-Mile Burden In The END-WET 7/22/2012
- World Open Water Swimming Association
- Dan Projansky, Flying Down Red River 10/22/2012
- Nominee for 2012 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year 10/24/2012
- The Odyssey Of Open Water Swimming 11/21/2012
- Butterfly Swim Rules In The Open Water 2/25/2013
- Dan Projansky, Channeling A Special Warrior Within 5/12/2013
- Dan Projansky Always Looking Forward 6/21/2013
- Key West Is Chopping Dan Projansky Down To Size 6/22/2013
- An Adventure Like No Other In The Mighty Red River 7/16/2013
- Dan Projansky Flying Down The Red River To END-WET 7/15/2013
- END-WET With No End In Sight 8/18/2013
- Swim For Freedom Supports Elite Warriors 9/22/2013
- List Of Butterfly Swims In The Open Water 10/09/2013
- Do Masters Rules Rule Or What In Open Water Butterfly? 10/19/2013
- Annaleise Carr To Start New And Longer END-WET 12/06/2013
- The Toughest, Gnarliest Open Water Swimmers Around 10/09/2013
- Dan's The Man - Mr. Butterfly Goes Extreme 01/31/2014
- Where Women Dominate 03/14/2016
- Dan Projansky, 56 Going On 36 04/04/2014
- Butterflyer Has A S.C.A.R. In Arizona 05/09/2014
- END-WET Begins And Ends Today 07/21/2014
- END-WET: Epic, Iconic And Surreally Long (broken link)
- Results And Report Of The 2014 END-WET 06/24/2014
- Swim 8 4 Freedom 08/12/2014
- Flat Abs, Fitness And Fly 01/06/2015
- Re-invention Through Butterfly, Making Up For Lost Time 03/27/2015
- Robin Lajoie, Butterflying For The Birds 07/14/2015
- 8-miler/ Is 7 Times A Charm 07/21/2015
- 2015 World Open Water Swimming Performance Of The Year Nominees 10/30/2015
- WOWSA...Swimmers To Be Celebrated At Big Chill Swim 11/22/2015
- Butterfly Can Be Brutal 12/04/2016
- 2015 WOWSA Awards - Performance Of The Year Voting Results 01/01/2016
- What Is The World's Most Difficult Sports Move? 05/08/2016
- Brian Suddeth Coaches Mark Rew, Deena Lambert 05/31/2016
- Red River Rages 06/17/2016
- Dan Projansky, DNF: Did Not Fail 6/18/2016
- John Batchelder, Another DNF (Do Not Freestyle) 06/19/2016
- John Batchelder Flys Through The Open Water 07/02/2016
- Swim 8 4 Freedom 07/19/2016
- Habits And Idiosyncrasies Of Open Water Swimmers 08/25/2016
- John Batchelder Describes His Butterfly Crossing Of Tampa Bay
- Brutal ... Butterfly In The Open Water