ST. IGNACE(AP) - A long-distance swimmer from Michigan on Friday announced plans to start a new Labor Day tradition next year with a swim across the Straits of Mackinac.
Jim Dreyer, who is serving as event director of the 2015 Mighty Mac Swim, said the swim will take place alongside the annual Bridge Walk, which draws thousands each year to make a 5-mile crossing on the Mackinac Bridge between the Upper and Lower peninsulas.
"After this swim, I can promise that the athletes will never look at the bridge and straits the same way again," Dreyer said in a statement.
Dreyer said the Sept. 7 swim next year will serve as a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, with several of the group's affiliates already involved, and he plans to have 58 swimmers participate. The 2015 walk will be the 58th annual event.
"The swim will be challenging, but safe," Dreyer said. "For safety, athletes will swim in groups, each with a dedicated escort boat and support team."
Pre-qualification and registration opens for swimmers on Friday. It wouldn't be the first time that such a swim has taken place. On Labor Day in 2007, Dreyer organized a swim across the straits as part of a 50th anniversary celebration for the suspension bridge.
Dreyer has made direct crossings of the five Great Lakes. In 2013, he made a 22-mile swim to Detroit's Belle Isle while hauling two dinghies loaded with hundreds of pounds of bricks.
To help draw attention to next year's swim, Dreyer said he plans to swim on or around July 4 from St. Ignace at the north end of the bridge to Mackinac Island while towing a barge carrying a vehicle. The vehicle will be raffled for Habitat for Humanity.