Seeing the world through water

Published 4:47 pm Saturday, July 21, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Kathy Bradshaw's goal is to swim in as many famous bodies of water as possible before hanging up her suit, and the Niles native is on a roll so far.
The 1991 Niles High School graduate, who is now living in New York, has already faced some of the toughest waters one can think of and her next goal is one that has never been done before.
On Aug. 11, Bradshaw will complete a solo swim of 8.2 miles around Mackinac Island. The swim is something Bradshaw thought of on her own. There is no competition, it will just be her, swimming the waters of Lake Michigan and Superior.
Bradshaw said her idea for the swim came as a result of reading the book “Swimming to Antarctica” by Lynne Cox. She explained that Lynne was an open water swimmer who swam across the Cook Strait, the Bering Strait, set a world record for swimming the English Channel, and became the first woman to swim the Strait of Magellan. She would look at a map, decide where she wanted to swim next, and then contact the appropriate people to get approval and support to do these swims.
In order to do the swim, Bradshaw had to get permission by the Mackinac Island Mayor's office and the Bureau of Tourism. After sending out several e-mails, she finally got in contact with the right people. They granted her the permission she needed, so Bradshaw will make history as the first person to swim around the Island
Bradshaw began her island swims a year ago when she took part in the 28.5 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (MIMS) as part of a four-woman relay. On June 16 of this year, she competed again as part of a two-woman team with Rondi Davies. This grueling swim in the cold waters of the East, Harlem and Hudson rivers attracts swimmers from all over the world. Water temperatures may be as cold as 63 degrees and swimmers are not allowed to wear wetsuits. Bradshaw and Davies finished first in the two-person division.
Two weeks later, Bradshaw competed in the third annual Governor's Island Swim in which swimmers circumnavigate Governor's Island, a distance of about two miles. The island is an historic landmark and former military base located between Manhattan and Brooklyn in the New York Harbor.
Bradshaw, who was born and raised in Niles and graduated from Kalamazoo College, has been swimming her entire life.
As a child, she swam competitively for the Niles-Buchanan YMCA swim team. She was a member of the Niles ‘Y' Mariner Swim Team, where she held many records. She was also a member of the South Bend Marlins Swim Team.
Although she swam only for leisure purposes during high school and college, she took up competitive swimming again four years ago when she discovered the world of open water swimming.
Some of Bradshaw's accomplishments have included swimming different New York rivers, the River Seine in Paris and San Francisco Bay. She also took part in the Alcatraz Invitational Swim, in which participants swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco. Bradshaw, undeterred by the cold water and sharks, was the third woman finisher in the female wetsuit division.
So, what's her next goal?
Bradshaw's swim is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Star Line Ferry Dock. It will continue west around the island, ending at the Arnold Ferry Dock.