Two Maumee residents to swim Straits of Mackinac

Maybe you’ve driven, or even walked, the 26,372 feet of the Mackinac Bridge connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan — but have you ever swam them?

That’s what 84 athletes, including two Maumee residents, plan to do this fall, and they’re collectively raising over $250,000 to do it.

The Mighty Mac Swim Challenge — being held for only the second time in eight years — will take place the same day as the 58th annual Mackinac Bridge Walk held on Labor Day, Sept. 7.

The swim will encourage swimmers from across the country to raise a minimum of $2,800 each to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Already, the swimmers have raised more than $170,000 in donations, which doesn’t include any sponsorship contributions or funds raised from raffle ticket sales.

“There’s strength in numbers, and there are enough people interested in doing the swim that I think we can really make a difference here in the state of Michigan,” said organizer Jim Dreyer.

Dreyer, an “extreme swimmer,” led 50 swimmers across the straits in 2007 for the inaugural swim to mark the 50th anniversary of the Mackinac Bridge. That event raised about $58,000 in donations for child mentorship programs.

Originally, Dreyer planned to have 58 swimmers participate this year, but that number expanded to 84 after over 300 people applied and the original spots were filled in the first day, he said.

Maumee resident Kate Oatis, 58, was originally placed on an alternate list, but then got involved with organizing the event. Now she’s one of the official swimmers and has thrown herself into fundraising and training for a five-mile swim.

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