HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A swimmer from Holland is preparing to swim across Lake Michigan for a good cause.
Three years ago, Bryan Huffman set his sights on swimming across the English Channel. Last year, he did it.
“Halfway across was 100% sure I wasn’t going to make it. (I was) throwing up, threw up for about two hours while swimming. You can’t get out of the water. You can’t touch the boat,” Huffman said. “Fortunately, my team on the boat changed my feelings, (I) started feeling better and was able to finish.”
Now, the 50-year-old from Holland is training for an even bigger challenge.
“In a few weeks we’re going to try to swim across Lake Michigan,” Huffman said.
The route is around 51 miles and may take a day and a half to complete.
“I think a lot of it’s going to be very difficult going across. So I’m kind of looking forward to being done if I’m quite honest,” Huffman said.
Huffman’s motivation to swim across Lake Michigan came from many things: His family, his team and the people that came before him.
“If I get across and I’m able to do that, I mean, it’ll be a real honor to be on that list with these other people that I really look up to and respect,” Huffman said. “It’s a daunting task. It’s by no means a sure thing but we’ve done a lot of training. I got a good team, so I think we’ve got a good chance at it if we get good weather and maybe a little luck.”
There have only been seven people to swim all the way across Lake Michigan. Huffman’s journey will start at Rawley Point Lighthouse near Manitowoc, Wisconsin and finish at Big Sable Point Lighthouse near Ludington, Michigan.
“I feel like, actually, I’m a stronger swimmer now than I was when I crossed the Channel and I think I’m going to need all of that to make it across the big lake,” Huffman said.
He got a swim practice in Saturday at the Nick Hobson Memorial swim from Holland Pier to Saugatuck Pier.
While swimming across the English Channel was a personal goal for Huffman, swimming across Lake Michigan is a way for him to support a good cause.
“We’re trying to raise money to pay for swim lessons for kids. The initial goal is just to pay for scholarships for kids who aren’t able to afford swim lessons, but the ultimate goal for me would be if we could do something like Vicki Keith did and raise the kind of funds that would pay for swim lessons for any kid who shows up at the aquatic center forever,” Huffman said.
With many bodies of water in Michigan, he said it’s important that kids learn how to swim and be safe in the water.
“A lot of people don’t realize this, but drowning is the No. 1 cause of death in kids one to four. And it’s No. 2 for kids five through 15, right behind car accidents. It happens all the time and unfortunately it happens all the time here in Lake Michigan,” Huffman said. “Our goal is to take drowning out of the top 10 for causes of death for kids here in West Michigan.”
His goal is to raise at least $12,000 to raise awareness of water safety and to give out scholarships to swim lessons at the Holland Aquatic Center.
His trip across Lake Michigan is set for next month. He is attempting the challenge around the same time as Jim Dreyer, who swam Lake Michigan successfully 25 years ago.