Liz Elling, a west side Ann Arbor resident, spent two weeks in July of 2007 swimming the length of the Huron River. The 100-mile swim was intended as a publicity effort to raise awareness of watershed issues, and as a fundraiser for the Huron River Watershed Council. Elling succeeded on both points, with her swim getting press attention and requests for speaking engagements six months later, in addition to the $47,500 raised for the Council.  Elling was 60 years old at the time of this swim.

Elling is a Sault Sainte Marie native who came to Ann Arbor as a student, later returning to school for a masters degree from the School of Natural Resources and the Environment. She dedicated a previous distance swim, a 2001 trip around the Leelenau Peninsula, to environmental educator and Nobel Prize nominee Bill Stapp, whom she met at SNRE.


In 2001, Liz Elling (BA '68, MS '93) called her friend and mentor, Bill Stapp, to ask a bittersweet favor. They both knew Stapp was dying. Elling, who was planning to swim 100 miles around the Leelanau Peninsula to benefit the Leelanau Conservancy, asked if she could swim in Stapp's honor. Stapp, who'd been one of Elling's graduate school advisors, gave his blessing—but also extracted a promise: he got Elling's assurance that when the swim was done she would do him the honor of spreading the word about water quality.

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