Open-water athlete Bryan Huffman (pictured with Stacy Huffman above) is once again attempting another monumental swim to benefit a scholarship fund at Holland Aquatic Center. This time he’s traveling to New York City to do so.
Huffman, who successfully swam across the English Channel in October 2022 and made an incomplete crossing of Lake Michigan in August 2023, has now set his sights on The 20 Bridges Swim, a 28.5-mile swimming route around the island of Manhattan and, appropriately, under the 20 bridges that connect it to New Jersey and the other boroughs.
The 50-year-old Michigan Lakeshore Aquatics (MLA) Masters swimmer and Holland Aquatic Center (HAC) member plans to begin the swim on Thursday, Sept. 28.
Once again, Huffman will be fundraising for HAC’s swim lesson program so that “kids can have affordable access to lessons at HAC,” he said. “Our goal is to remove barriers that prevent ‘waterproofing’ kids in our community, and to eliminate drowning from the top 10 causes of childhood death in our region.”
Huffman’s attempt to swim across Lake Michigan, which ended prematurely due to mechanical issues on his support boat, raised $36,000 for a swim lesson scholarship fund at HAC. With his 20 Bridges Swim, he hopes to add another $14,000 to the fund and reach an overall goal of $50,000 for 2023.
“We are so grateful for Bryan’s big heart and the amazing way he has supported HAC with each of these big swims,” says Amanda Duimstra, general manager at Holland Aquatic Center. “More kids in West Michigan are going to learn how to swim and be much safer in and around the water because of his efforts.”
The 20 Bridges Swim, together with the English Channel and Catalina Channel, are referred to as the Triple Crown of open water swimming. Previously known as the New York Marathon Swim, it is the longest of the Triple Crown swims, but also usually the fastest of the three.
Swimmers must apply and be accepted to participate in The 20 Bridges Swim based on their swimming resumes. Of the many applications from around the world, less than 100 are accepted annually.
Huffman will start his swim at Mill Rock, an uninhabited island which is at the junction of the East and Harlem Rivers. From there he will swim counterclockwise around Manhattan. Taking that route is more advantageous due to tidal currents that flow in the same direction as the swimmers. The swim is estimated to last between 8-9 hours.
After this latest open-water venture, Huffman hopes to swim across the Great Lakes and the Catalina Channel in California over the next three years. And with each swim, he hopes to raise enough money so that every child who comes to HAC to learn to swim does so affordably.
To donate, go to Bryan’s Big Lake Swim – Holland Aquatic Center.