Jake Bright to Swim the Manitou Passage to Benefit FLOW, North Manitou Light Keepers

Traverse City native will make first official open water swim of the passage along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore


Editor’s note: This is a FLOW media release issued August 3, 2022. Members of the media can reach open water swimmer Jake Bright at jake@jakebright.com, 347-204-7576; FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood at liz@flowforwater.org, 570-872-4956; and NMLK President Daniel Oginsky at dan@northmanitoulightkeepers.org, 810-360-3768. The event’s fundraising page can be found here at GoFundMe or https://gofund.me/267456f4.


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Jake Bright, a trained open water swimmer originally from Traverse City who now lives in New York, will pursue the first official solo swim of the Manitou Passage following USA Swimming’s open water rules.  The swim will occur in late August and – upon completion – will receive ratification by the World Open Water Swim Association. The specific date of the swim will depend on weather conditions, but will occur between August 22 and September 3.  “The incredible fresh water of Lake Michigan and the amazing beauty of the Sleeping Bear Dunes are central to my upbringing, so I want to do something inspiring and charitable to celebrate them,” Jake Bright said. Jake will document the experience on social media via #ManitouSwim

A Challenging Swim: First of Its Kind

The 6.91-mile marathon swim will start at Sleeping Bear Point, in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and finish at the South Manitou Island Lighthouse.  Depending on conditions, the swim will likely take around three hours to complete and be made in water temperatures ranging from 55 to 70 degrees fahrenheit.  In accordance with USA Swimming open water rules, Jake will navigate by sight, wear an International Swimming Federation (FINA) approved wetsuit that provides marginal additional buoyancy, and use no aids, such as fins, paddles, or flotation devices.  A safety boat will accompany Jake – without providing aid for the swim – and an observer will document the swim for World Open Water Swim Association ratification.  

Raising Support for Preservation and Protection in the Region

Jake wants to use his swim to raise money for two non-profit organizations dedicated to protection and preservation in the region.  One is North Manitou Light Keepers (NMLK), whose mission is to restore and maintain the North Manitou Shoal Light (an offshore lighthouse in the Manitou Passage) and make it accessible to the public.  The other is FLOW (For Love Of Water), which is a law and policy center dedicated to ensuring the waters of the Great Lakes Basin are healthy, public, and protected for all.

All funds raised for this event will be allocated equally between NMLK and FLOW, with no deductions made for administrative expenses. “I’m a huge fan of both of these organizations and what they are doing to step up and help preserve and protect two things I love so much: Michigan’s fresh water and the Manitou Passage,” Jake said.  Contributions to Jake’s #ManitouPassageSwim fundraiser event can be made via GoFundMe here

More about Jake Bright

Jake currently resides in New York.  He was born in Traverse City and grew up swimming in Lake Michigan.  He began recreational open water swim competition in 2007.  He has since completed over 45 races in distances of up to 10K.  Since moving from Northern Michigan, Jake said, “swimming in salt water has made me more fond and proud of all of Michigan’s freshwater spaces.”  Jake used to ride the school bus to Long Lake Elementary with Jake Kaberle, currently owner of Burritt’s Fresh Market in Traverse City and a founder of North Manitou Light Keepers.  His 4th grade teacher there was Moomers Founder Nancy Plumber.  Jake Bright said, “I’m so excited to reconnect with folks I grew up with in this adventure.”  In the 1990s, Jake canoed the Manitou Passage with a high school classmate.  “It’s funny now to remember how my buddy and I were chided by the island park ranger when we came out via canoe, and now I am going to swim it instead.”

More about FLOW, NMLK

North Manitou Light Keepers is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to restore and preserve the North Manitou Shoal Lighthouse and make it and its history available to the public for education and appreciation. For more information visit https://northmanitoulightkeepers.org/.  

FLOW (For Love of Water) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that serves as a Great Lakes law and policy center dedicated to ensuring the waters of the Great Lakes Basin are healthy, public, and protected for all. For more information visit https://forloveofwater.org/.

More about the Manitou Passage

Located in Northwest Lower Michigan, the Manitou Passage is a Lake Michigan waterway between the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and North and South Manitou Islands. 

The passage was named and first navigated by Native Americans and is steeped in Great Lakes Maritime history. The Manitou Passage has been used as a commercial shipping channel regularly since the early 1800s.  

While the passage remains relatively calm in late summer, it is also historically dangerous for maritime traffic in the fall and winter seasons. As such, the waters surrounding the Manitou Passage contain the remains of over 50 shipwrecks, many of which are documented by the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve. 

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Traverse City native will make first official open water swim of the passage along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore