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Harry Briggs

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Dr. Harry H. Briggs is an Honor Swimmer inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame
Absolutely! The biography of Harry Briggs, Ph.D.
Harry Briggs with students
Harry Briggs
Harry Briggs
Harry Briggs
Harry Briggs

Dr. Harry H. Briggs (passed away on 20 May 2016 at the age of 95, originally from Massachusetts), was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1997 as an Honor Swimmer and is a member of the 24-hour club. He was a political science instructor at Northwestern State University whose nickname is The Paddlin’ Professor and he served in the U.S. Marines stationed in Japan. He was inspired at age 16 in 1937 by meeting International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honoree Gertrude Ederle on an ocean liner from New York City to Southampton. He may be the only Honoree ever to have spent a night on Little Diomede - where International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honoree Lynn Cox later swam to from Russia.

Open Water Swimming Highlights

  • Dr. Briggs was the first to swim from Corsica to Sardinia in 1955.
  • Dr. Briggs was the first to complete a swim 32 miles across Lake Erie (on his third attempt) in 1957 in 35 hours 55 minutes. His last 4 miles took more than 10 hours. A political science instructor whose nickname is The Paddlin’ Professor - this swim led to considerable publicity for he and the sport: an appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show”, an article by Gay Talese in The New York Times and a profile in Sports Illustrated magazine.
  • Dr. Briggs attempted to swim across Lake Michigan three times from Chicago to Michigan City, the last one attempted in 1960.
    • He did complete a 34-mile marathon swim in 1958, but he landed in Gary, Indiana, short of target in Gary Indiana.
  • Dr. Briggs was the first to swim the 10 mile across Lake Winnebago in 1959.
  • Dr. Briggs became the first person to swim the 19 miles across in 1962 and 58 km (36 miles) around Lake Winnipesaukee in 1963 in New Hampshire, USA.
  • Dr. Briggs completed 43 marathon swims over the course of his career.
  • At the age of 76, he swam 16 km (10 miles) across Lake Sunapee as a fundraiser and continued to do fundraising open water swims into his 90s.
  • His life is a subject of a biography called Absolutely! written by his niece Letitia Sweitzer M.Ed.
  • He made his annual 3.2 km swim on his 91st birthday across Kincaid Lake near Alexandria, Louisiana on 17 May 2012 as a a scholarship fund raiser for Northwestern State University.

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