EL couple braves the waves for Mighty Mac Swim

Sep 17, 2015

Most people spend Labor day relaxing or resting, but not East Lansing couple Samantha and Todd Kennedy. They swam across the Straits of Mackinac on Labor day, fighting wind and rain to complete the 4-plus mile swim. Current State talks with the Kennedys about the Mighty Mac Swim.

Most Michiganders know the Straits of Mackinac from driving over them, not swimming across them. But one local couple got up close and personal with the cold lake waters when they participated in the Mighty Mac Swim, an annual swim across the Straits that attracted 84 participants this year.

Current State talks with Samantha and Todd Kennedy about swimming the Straits of Mackinac.


When did you know you really wanted to do this?  

Todd: We had a lot of friends really get us involved. Part of it is Mackinac is a special place for both of us. We actually got engaged on the island.  

Whenever we do triathlons up there you always look at the bridge and always kind of think what a cool event it would be or if you ever have the opportunity to swim across it. So it didn't take much nudging when we found out this was going on to really get us on board. 

Talk to us about the physical qualifications.  

Samantha: It was five miles if you could go straight across. But nobody was able to because the current was too strong that day. So we went six miles, which was actually on the lower end for people that day. Some people went nine miles I believe. 

How do you prepare for the currents and the wind? Can you?  

Samantha: I don’t think we necessarily did except for the fact that we race triathlons all the time which are always in open water. And we have raced up there once a year for the past many years. I guess that’s kind of how we prepared.  

Todd: Definitely with the triathlon training we already had a decent amount of base yardage in. So it definitely gave us a foot up on getting really ready for it as opposed to coming from nothing. Nothing really can quite prepare you for getting all the way out there in the water with the four to five foot waves at times. 

Was the bridge a distraction or preoccupation in any way? 

Samantha: Well, we got blown fairly far to the east. So, I think if the bridge had fallen down, we all would have been well clear. But…because the bridge was a little far off, it seemed like you were never moving. 

What was the single most challenging aspect of this?  

Todd: It was definitely in the middle section. The waves in the middle where it was at its deepest point, when you just felt like you were on an endless treadmill of water. It was almost as mentally tough as it wasphysically because you’re battling the water, you’re battling the waves and the current. And the thought of not reaching the other side, that was probably the toughest part.