Summer resident hopes to be first to swim length of Lake Charlevoix

George Bradbury has spent many summers taking in the beauty of Lake Charlevoix, but never in the way he will experience it the week of July 22.

Bradbury, an orthopedic surgeon from Tucson, Ariz., will attempt to become the first person to swim the entire length of Lake Charlevoix in northern Michigan.


The swim is expected to begin Tuesday, July 24 (weather permitting) in Charlevoix on the lake’s west arm and move southeast to the finish in Boyne City.

The planned distance measures nearly 15 miles (25 kilometers) and will take about eight hours to complete.

The English Channel, deemed the most prestigious open water swim, measures about 21 miles.

If completed, it is believed to be the first time the full length of the lake has been swum nonstop.

Dr. Bradbury has a lifetime of memories on Lake Charlevoix.

His family has owned a cottage in Charlevoix since 1902, and he retreats there often from his hectic life as chief of staff at Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tucson.

“I feel a special bond to the lake and want to attempt something to memorialize that bond,” Bradbury said.

The coast-to-coast swim has been in the planning stages for many years, and the impetus to take on the challenge came not long after Bradbury completed the famed Strait of Gibraltar swim from Spain to Africa in 2011.

Bradbury was the first person from Arizona to complete the 10-mile swim across the Strait of Gibraltar.

Before that, Bradbury completed the grueling Ironman triathlon five times.

Bradbury logged slightly less than 1 million yards of swimming in training for the Lake Charlevoix swim, equal to about 540 miles.

His coach, Geoff Glaser, also guided Bradbury across the Strait of Gibraltar in 2011.

“George swam relentlessly for hours in preparation for Gibraltar and has now surpassed those training levels to complete his new goal of swimming Charlevoix,” Glaser said. “I fully expect he will achieve his potential yet again as he embarks on this feat.”

Though Bradbury’s main goal is to make history with the Lake Charlevoix swim, he wants others to find the motivation to reach beyond their limits.

“It is easy for life, with its daily grind, to make less out of us,” Bradbury said. “I want to make a statement that affirms the exciting things that life can bring. I hope to inspire others to aim high whatever their dreams may be.”