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Amateur athletes from Marquette area take on choppy waters, brisk temperatures in weekend challenge

August 20, 2012
By JACKIE STARK - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - Motorists traveling over the Mackinac Bridge Sunday morning may have seen an unusual sight: two swimmers making their way through the Straits of Mackinac, flanked by four kayakers.

For the swimmers, the view of the bridge was unforgettable.

"It was pretty overwhelming," said Suzanne Williams, who swam the roughly four-mile stretch in about three hours. "I've never seen it from that perspective, being in the water. You get an idea of how high the bridge actually is. The cars were pretty tiny."

Article Photos

Suzanne Williams, 49, of Marquette approaches the Mackinac Bridge’s south tower Sunday morning as she continues in her goal of swimming the Straits of Mackinac. Williams was one of two swimmers to complete the task. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Williams)

Marquette residents Williams and Karl Zueger , both 49, were the only two swimmers from an original group of 12 to complete the feat.

Originally slated for Saturday, the swim was canceled due to a small craft advisory and heavy winds and waves.

"The weather was just not with us," Williams said. "A few swimmers attempted to go out and check it out, the waves were just too rough. ... Unfortunately, the other swimmers weren't able to hang around. They had the one day and were hoping for good weather. It just didn't work out for them."

Sunday's weather provided safer conditions for the swim, and the two started the journey at 7:45 a.m. from Straits State Park in St. Ignace, finishing at the beach by the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse.

Williams, who has completed the Teal Lake Swim twice, said she prepared for the Straits swim by heading out into the waters of Lake Michigan, to help her get used to swimming in high waves.

"It's definitely different than swimming in a pool," she said.

Supported by four kayakers, Zueger and Williams enjoyed pleasant conditions Sunday morning, with light west winds and rolling waves of about two to four feet.

The event was initiated by Bob Wiesmann of Skandia and was largely organized by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maarten Vermaat.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.



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