Look out, Diana Nyad. Harry Briggs is 92 and he’s still swimming distances that would daunt most people.
Briggs celebrated Labor Day by attempting a two-mile swim across Little Squam Lake in Ashland, N.H., to raise money for Plymouth State University’s women’s tennis team.
Briggs, who spends summers in Campton, N.H., and winters in Louisiana, where he teaches political science at Northwestern State University, has been a marathon swimmer for decades, paddling through the waters between Corsica and Sardinia, and across Lake Erie and Lake Winnipesaukee, said Mike Moffett, a professor of sports management at New Hampshire Technical Institute, who helped Briggs coordinate his Little Squam swim.
At the beginning of August, Briggs met with Moffett to plan the watery trek. Briggs decided he could use his swim to raise money for the Plymouth State University’s women’s tennis team, as tennis was a passion of his late wife, Moffett said.
Briggs took off from the Ashland side of the lake while Moffett watched from a nearby canoe and the tennis team watched from a barge, Moffett said.
In two hours, Briggs made it through two-thirds of his swim, but due to the harsh, 20-mph winds and chilling waves, he had to be pulled out of the water. He was transported to a hospital for hypothermia treatment but was released Monday night, Moffett said.
Although he is disappointed that he didn’t succeed, Briggs hopes to try the swim again, Moffett said.
“He always wants to have something on his horizon to train for,” said Moffett. Friends and family, however, want Briggs to take it easy for a little while.
Nyad, 64, made headlines worldwide by swimming from Cuba to Florida, covering about 110 miles in nearly 53 hours. She landed Monday afternoon in Key West. She’s 64, but still a relative youngster compared with Briggs.
Briggs began his distance swimming career in the 1950s.
In the early years, he conquered the shark-ridden Mediterranean waters between Corsica and Sardinia. He completed a swim across Lake Erie on his second try. And he made it across Winnipesaukee.
He took a 30-year break from swimming from the 1960s to the 1990s when his wife was worried about his health, Moffett said.
Back in the swim in 1995, at 74, Briggs swam 12 miles across Squam and Little Squam lakes in New Hampshire.
“He gave it a great effort” on Monday, said Moffett, who describes Briggs as “inspiring and invigorating.”