Watch

An 8-Mile Swim In Lake Michigan

Creator:
Published:
December 12, 2023
June 6, 2022
Br. Matt is raising money for Cristo Rey H.S. by doing something incredible: open water swimming.

Br. Matt Wooters, SJ, is a marathon swimmer and religious brother. He swam 8 miles in Lake Michigan to raise money for Cristo Rey High School in Chicago. His fundraiser netted over $25k for the cause.

When asked how he's able to swim for so long, he talks about entering the "flow state" and shared this: “Your brain kind of turns off, and then I can just be really present in that moment.” He continues, “And that for me, feels like I’m in touch with God. I’m in touch with the water.”

Video Transcript

Meet Brother Matt Wooters, SJ, a marathon swimmer from Chicago.

Brother Matt: Imagine training on a treadmill, if you're a runner, for your whole life. And then running through the jungle, being chased by tigers. That's the equivalent of open-water swimming. There's a lot of variables that you cannot control.

Matt is a Jesuit brother. He jumps into the water of Lake Michigan on a sunny day. He’s swimming eight miles in Lake Michigan to raise money for Cristo Rey High School.

It's a great sense of community. Everyone's so friendly, they remember your name. It almost feels like a morning ritual. We all come and watch the sunrise together. It's like wonder and awe. And then, jump in, swim, and start our days.

Brother Matt is swimming just off the shore next to some wildlife on the rocks.

This bird is so nuts.

I'm excited. I think I've prepped as well as I can. I swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco. I swam from the Golden Gate Bridge around San Francisco to the Bay Bridge. So, I've done a couple of these swims, but never this long. This will be my longest attempt. As they say: It's up to God now. 

Brother Matt is on the shore in the dark at 5 a.m., preparing to start his eight-mile swim. 

Can we say prayer real quick? God, we give thanks for the gift of today and the gift of this community… All right guys. 

So, the flow state, when your kind of brain turns off, and then I can just be really present in that moment. And that for me, that feels like I'm in touch with God, I'm in touch with the water. 

I've been swimming my whole life, and some of my first experiences of prayer were actually when I was little when I was swimming. And being in the bottom of the deep end, when I was like 5 years old, and seeing all the lights and the colors and it's so quiet and it's so big and scary.

Friends on the shore whistle and shout to Matt as he swims. 

Friend: Let's go. Looking good out there, keep it up. We're all proud of you.

A community organizer gives instructions to people on a beach who are there to welcome Matt at the end of his swim at 11:30 a.m.

Organizer: Once we get closer, when you see him starting to walk out, run — and then that's when we will have the tunnel. Yeah, okay. So let's make our way over there.

Friends continue to cheer Matt as he finishes his swim. 

High school staff member: The essence of Cristo Rey is our community, and he just really embodied that in a very different way, in a very cool way. And we're just so inspired and grateful to Brother Matt. We'll never forget it.

Brother Matt: I'm really happy to be affiliated with something so beautiful. And, to be swimming along, and hearing people shout — I don't know, that's really moving for me. This wasn't really about me, you know what I mean? It's how good our God is. And if I can be a small part in that, then awesome. 

Brother Matt is wearing sandals as he talks.

This is not the normal garb — this is the swim day garb. Like Jesus — Jesus wore sandals. Come on. I'm just modeling Christ.

Creators:
Grotto
Published:
December 12, 2023
June 6, 2022
On a related note...
Holy Week Guide: What are the Stations of the Cross?

Holy Week Guide: What are the Stations of the Cross?

Bethany Meola

The Kind of Beauty and Wisdom We Need in Our Feeds

The Kind of Beauty and Wisdom We Need in Our Feeds

Grotto Shares

How Do You Find Friends After College?

How Do You Find Friends After College?

Grotto

Baptism of the Lord Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

Baptism of the Lord Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

Grotto

Saint Joseph Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

Saint Joseph Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

Grotto

How Prayer Taught Me to Love My Body

How Prayer Taught Me to Love My Body

Jessica Mannen Kimmet

Holding Onto God’s Unfailing Love — Even Through Terminal Illness

Holding Onto God’s Unfailing Love — Even Through Terminal Illness

Catherine Griffin

Good and Decent EP 16: After Life

Good and Decent EP 16: After Life

Grotto

What Our Inner Longing Says About Our Humanity

What Our Inner Longing Says About Our Humanity

Molly Gettinger

Losing Patience With This Pandemic? Take Up These Habits

Losing Patience With This Pandemic? Take Up These Habits

Katie Faley

5 Minutes

5 Minutes

Grotto

What Are the Gifts of the Holy Spirit?

What Are the Gifts of the Holy Spirit?

Grotto

How Having “Soul Sessions” With My Friends Transformed My Faith

How Having “Soul Sessions” With My Friends Transformed My Faith

Alexandra Bendixen

A reflective narrative by Alexandra Bendixen.

Wonder and Awe in the Study of Cosmology

Wonder and Awe in the Study of Cosmology

Grotto

Learning to Say ‘God is Love’ When You’re Gay

Learning to Say ‘God is Love’ When You’re Gay

Eve Tushnet

This Young Student is Standing Up for Black Lives

This Young Student is Standing Up for Black Lives

Grotto

Volunteer Nurse Cares for Isolated Migrant Shepherds

Volunteer Nurse Cares for Isolated Migrant Shepherds

Grotto

Asking for Healing in Times of Need

Asking for Healing in Times of Need

Mary Ann Wilson

5 Lifestyle Instas that Will Inspire (Not Depress) You

5 Lifestyle Instas that Will Inspire (Not Depress) You

Gabriella Patti

How I Fit Prayer into My Busiest Days

How I Fit Prayer into My Busiest Days

Krista Steele

newsletter

We’d love to be pals.

Sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll meet you in your inbox each week.