This Summer 6 siblings will attempt to swim across Lake Michigan in a continuous, through the night, 65 mile adventure and hopefully set some Guinness World Records in the process.  The Ornée Family is unique in that (A) it’s large  (B) all 6 siblings enjoy each other, and (C) all 6 have extensive swimming backgrounds.  Although “Team Ornée” includes a collegiate national swimming champ, All-State and All-Americans swimmers and Triathlon standouts, an open water swim of this magnitude will present a new challenge.

The siblings intend to start near Sheboygan, WI and swim through the night until they reach shore near Ludington, MI.  Depending on weather and currents, the entire journey will be at least 65 miles and will take around 35 hours.  Team Ornée plans to swim relay style, with 1 swimmer in the water at all times.  The BIG LAKE SWIM is scheduled for the last week in July 2013.

The event is called the BIG LAKE SWIM because it is the name that the father of Team Ornée gave to Lake Michigan when the swimmers were kids.  The Ornée family spends time every Summer at Silver Lake in Northern Michigan.  Silver Lake is known for it’s massive sand dunes that separate it from Lake Michigan.  It’s a 2 mile hike over the dunes to Lake Michigan, and at some point every summer Dad Ornée would ask who wanted to hike across to the “Big Lake”.  And let’s be honest, Lake Michigan is BIG.  It’s huge.  307 miles long.  65 miles across.  It is the sixth largest freshwater lake in the world.

The siblings decided to tackle a swim across the Big Lake because they love a challenge.  Training for the event, and surviving through it should be a unique, epic adventure that they plan to share and cherish for a lifetime.




CHRIS ORNÉE (38): Chris is the eldest member of Team Ornée and is responsible for starting the inescapable swimming path for the younger siblings.  He was an All-American swimmer and water-polo player at Grandville High School and went on to claim an individual national championship in the 100 Backstroke at Johns Hopkins University, before transferring to the Naval Academy.  Chris continued his decorated career at the Naval Academy setting multiple school records.  Chris currently lives in Charlottesville, VA with his wife and 3 kids.

JACLYN (ORNÉE) VANDERVEEN (35): Jaclyn was a standout high school swimmer at Grandville High School where she set multiple school records and earned All State honors.  Jaclyn lives with her husband and 2 children in Zeeland, MI.

ELIZABETH (ORNÉE) KAUFMAN (34): Elizabeth was also a standout high school swimmer at Grandville High School where she set multiple school records and earned All State honors. Elizabeth lives with her husband an 3 children in Holland, MI.

JON ORNÉE (31): Jon was the black sheep of the family and the only one who didn’t swim throughout high school.  He swam for 2 years at Zeeland High School before turning his focus to running.  In the past 5 years, Jon has claimed a handful of Overall Triathlon victories in Michigan and Wisconsin and has also coached triathlon clubs.  Jon lives with his wife and 2 children in Holland, MI.

DAVID ORNÉE (28): David was a standout high school swimmer at Zeeland High School where he earned All State honors before continuing to swim for Hope College.  David currently lives in Bloomington, IL with his wife.

ANDREW ORNÉE (25): Andrew was a standout high school swimmer at Zeeland High School where he earned All Conference honors as a swimmer and also played 4 years of water polo.  Andrew currently lives in Charlottesville, VA with his wife and dog.


Water is a gift.  A gift that we too often take for granted.  Team Ornée thought it was appropriate to use their time and energy in the water to raise awareness and money for clean water solutions for those who need it.  So the BIG LAKE SWIM will be focused on raising funds for Aqua Clara International.

Aqua Clara International is a Michigan-based 501(c) 3 non-profit corporation whose mission is to forge sustainable and scalable solutions to the problems associated with potable water in developing countries. Aqua Clara’s overriding goal is to provide those who live on less than $2 per day with affordable clean water. Their team of engineers, scientists, business people and program managers, whether full-time, part-time or volunteer, is fully dedicated to carrying out this mission by developing and deploying technological solutions to worldwide water issues that are appropriate to various local contexts and needs. To complement and supplement their efforts related to water and to meet other community needs, they also provide solutions to problems related to sanitation and community health and welfare.

Aqua Clara makes these solutions available at no charge or on a cost-recovery basis to individuals and groups who participate in their training programs in order to bring the solutions to their communities, typically through the new small businesses they learn to create and manage. The principal ACI-supported sites are located in Kenya and Nicaragua, while they also partner with many organizations representing a range of faiths and belief systems to bring their solutions to other countries.

You can find out more about this great organization by visiting:


Our list of sponsors continues to grow.  If you’d like to sponsor Team Ornée on our BIG LAKE SWIM, please send an email to:


My Great Lake: Seriously awesome apparel company that celebrates and supports the Great Lakes!  Buy their stuff!




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