Sometimes, the craziest ideas lead to the best of times! I’ve gotta say, the Mackinac Island Swim seemed crazy, and to over 230 swimmers, it was the best!
Eric Hansen, along with Jon Vos, had an idea to swim around the island. This was to be a fun swim, not a timed event, and to give back. Money raised went to help raise funds for the Mackinac Women’s Club.
While I had the incredible privilege to emcee the race, (as the announcer at the “finish line”), my wife, Patty, volunteered to help each and every swimmer out of the water. She stood in that water for nearly 5 hours. And, she loved every minute of each inspiring swimmer.
The craziness begin near 7:00, Sunday morning, on Mackinac Island. It took special dedication from the swimmers to get there, as there are no cars allowed on the island. This meant some swimmers stayed at hotels on the island, while others did an overnight in Mackinac City, and took a ferry express as early as 6:30 in the morning.
After swimmers checked in, they received their last minute announcements, and then took to the water. Slowly, swimmers waded in, took one last selfie, and begin the 7.2 mile swim around the island, with an optional 8.2 mile route.
Conditions were beautiful to begin. But, at about miles 3 and 4, it got quite choppy as they swam into the wind. Swimmers had to really gut that section out. But, once they rounded the island, and hit the halfway point, they had the wind at their back to finish the swim.
After about 2:50:00 into the swim we heard someone shout, “Swimmer!” It was Olympian Chris Thompson. He was in the homestretch to finish his 8.2 miles. When Chris got out the water, his final time was 3:07. Unbelievable!
While the feat of swimming around the island was incredible in itself, so were the stories from many of the swimmers.
A few that truly inspired me was a man who was missing an arm. How did he do it? On his back, with the help of his spotter. Wow!
There were many stories of swimmers who battled cancer. In fact, for one swimmer, Kevin, it was his first summer in 2 years that he wasn’t in the hospital receiving cancer/lymphoma treatments.
Here’s Amy Butler, another cancer survivor, who recently finished her treatments after having a double mastectomy. She origianlly planned to swim 2 miles of the relay, but decided to swim thr entire island! What an inspiration.
As Amy came out of the water, she was greeted by hundreds of people cheering and clapping for her. There weren’t too many dry eyes to be found.
Or Pam, who finished her swim and said, “That’s the farthest I’ve ever swam.” That is grit!
And, the finisher who got out of the water and, with a smile said, “let’s do it again!” You inspired me, brother!
Final tally: 232 swimmers exited the water. The youngest was 19, while the oldest was 76, with an average age of 48.
But, besides the swim, the real cause was to raise money for the Mackinac Women’s Club. And did they ever, to the tune of over $10,000!
Sometimes, you need to do something crazy. And honestly, sometimes it takes some crazy people to make that happen! These swimmers weren’t crazy, to me and the other 47 volunteers, they were crazy inspiring!
Find your crazy. Go make a difference. And always Run, or swim, by faith.