The University Record, September 4, 2001

Superior swimmer finds faltering ecosystem

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

Liz Elling takes a break from her 100-mile swim around the Leelanau Peninsula this past July. The cold and choppy waters added to the challenge of Elling’s lengthy swim. Special high-energy bars provided her refueling to keep going.
Dead alewives, zebra mussels and algae indicate a messed-up ecosystem. That’s the verdict from Liz Elling, visitor program coordinator at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens.

Elling put her months of physical training and years of study and interest in the environment to work in a nearly 100-mile swim around the Leelanau Peninsula in early July. Her goal was to raise funds for the Leelanau Conservancy and raise public awareness of the fragility of the Great Lakes.

“I felt really great,” Elling says of her conditioning program. “There was only one day that was really tiring. There was one seven-mile stretch where the wind picked up and the water got really choppy. Even though I stopped every few hours to eat and re-fuel [never leaving the water, but getting supplies from an accompanying boat] the water chopping at my arms and face really made me tired. At the end of that stretch I was so tired I couldn’t put two words together.”

One of the items Elling used for refueling was an energy bar from an M-Fit recipe that was high in fiber, with bran, nuts, marshmallow and oats. She had used this recipe in a cooking class for youngsters that she taught at the Botanical Gardens.

The refueling technique was like that of a suckling whale, she says. Elling drank water through a tube extended from the boat every half-hour during the morning and changed to Gatorade in the afternoon.

While making her 14-day swim, Elling took water samples, measured the water temperature, took photographs of what she saw underwater, and noted a new interloper, the rusty crawfish.

“It wasn’t a pretty sight,” Elling said of the ecosystem she was observing. “There’s no question. It’s messed up and more is coming.”

M-Fit No-Bake High Fiber Energy Bars

1/4 cup honey

4 cups all-bran cereal

1 cup dry-roasted peanuts

6 cups miniature marshmallows (10 1/2 oz. package)

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

In a large saucepan over moderate heat, combine the honey and marshmallows, stirring until dissolved.

Add the rolled oats, all-bran and nuts. Stir until well-coated.

Press into a lightly-greased, 13x9x2-inch pan with wet hands (to reduce stickiness). Cut 7 times across and 4 times down, wiping the spatula with a damp paper towel between cuts to prevent it from sticking. Refrigerate.

Makes 28 bars.

Per 1 bar serving: calories 115; protein 3 grams(g.); fat 3 g., 23 percent fat, 3 percent saturated fat; carbohydrates 23 g., dietary fiber 5 g., cholesterol 0 milligrams (mg.), sodium 152 mg., calcium 12 mg., iron 2 mg.

Exchanges: bread 1, fruit 1/2, fat 1, not recommended for diabetic individuals.