September 1, 2016

SVSU professor set to swim Straits of Mackinac, run 64-mile race in 4-day span

If Adam Coughlin has a limit, he may meet it within the next week.

The Saginaw Valley State University associate professor of kinesiology and exercise aficionado in September is determined to take on two of the longest and most grueling competitions of his life.

The first test of his limits arrives Monday, Sept. 5, when the Flint native participates in a nearly 5-mile swimming race on the Straits of Mackinac that coincides with the 59th Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk. The second test happens four days later, on Friday, Sept. 9, when he begins a 100K (64-mile) run as part of the Run Woodstock celebration in Pinckney.

“I’m a bit of an adventure nut,” Coughlin said of his decision to enter both challenges within a 1-week span. “I like to know where my limits are. I could find out here.”

He is no stranger to competition. He signed up for his first triathlon in 2001. Enjoying the challenge and discipline involved, Coughlin over the years has demonstrated his tireless commitment to challenging his physical and mental boundaries by entering in swimming and running competitions.

Still, his longest competitive run was 50 miles and his longest swimming event was about half the length of Monday’s contest.

“I have a feeling this 64-mile race might be my limit,” Coughlin said. “I’m 6-foot, 3-inches and 200 pounds, so the running can take its toll on my body. The swimming doesn’t have that kind of effect, so I can see myself reaching further distances with that.”

His date with the Straits of Mackinac is part of a Habitat for Humanity fundraiser. About 50 people competing in the event are donating their entry fees — totaling $5,500 — to the nonprofit organization.

“It’s one of the largest swimming-based fundraisers in the world,” Coughlin said, “so it’s for a good cause.”

Water temperatures could reach low 60-degree levels, which would mark his coldest swimming event environment. Participants are required to wear wetsuits, so Coughlin doesn’t expect too much discomfort.

“I prefer a little chill,” he said. “It feels good to have some of that to cool the body heat you generate.”

Coughlin, who is both an Adrian College graduate and former member of the faculty there, said the summer has involved “the most amount of training I’ve ever done.”

Coughlin expects to finish the swim in under four hours and the run in about 15 hours.

“I feel pretty good about both races,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes.”