DEXTER, Mich. (AP) – A 63-year-old Dexter woman is training to become the oldest person to swim the Straits of Mackinac.

Julie Woods, who has degenerative disc disease and is a victim of sexual abuse, hopes to inspire others to overcome obstacles when she achieves her goal next summer. She also wants to raise $5,000 for Gleaners Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan.

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The Straits of Mackinac is about 5 miles from point to point, but Woods tells The Ann Arbor News  that the swim will be closer to 8 miles as she follows the currents. She plans to start in St. Ignace north of the Mackinac Bridge and end near the lighthouse in Mackinaw City. Woods expects the swim to take between five and eight hours.

Two kayakers plan to record video of the feat as they accompany Woods on her swim.

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Woods swims more than 2 miles per day. She lifts weights and is trying to gain weight to prevent hypothermia. The average summer temperature of the waterway is between 45 and 50 degrees.

An official from the United States Coast Guard’s Sault Ste. Marie office says only four people attempted to swim the straits last summer due to unusually cold temperatures caused by a harsh winter.


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