Friday, December 31, 2010

Last day of 2010

Nice short final swim of 2010, with a video, sorry for the quality, but it's tough when you document yourself.

All by myself... and loving it
20 x 100

5 on 1:30 / 1 on 1:25
4 on 1:30 / 1 on 1:25
3 on 1:30 / 1 on 1:25
2 on 1:30 / 1 on 1:25
1 on 1:30 / final one.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

Have a safe New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

R.I.P. Christopher Walsh

Young Chris Walsh at Dover Harbor
Last night I received an email on our Channel Chat Group, that young Chris Walsh was killed by a 'hit & run' driver while on holiday. Chris had just successfully swam across the English Channel last September. Now, I did not know him personally, but there is a bond formed between swimmer who head to Dover to reach for their "DREAM". Chris' channel story is on his blog,

This news has reminded me that "Life is too short and FRAGILE"! We must make the most of everyday and treat each person who comes into our lives, as a GIFT.

Before the big swim
Today, I dedicate today's swim to Christopher. I do not know his age, so I used the 21 miles that he crossed this September as base.
Peace to you, Christopher Walsh, and all your family and friends.

21 miles to go

Swim: 2100 ( think about good, long strokes)
Paddles: 21 x 50 (3 on :50 (25drill) / 2 full stroke on :45)
Swim: 21 x 100 (rotate times: 1:30, 1:35, 1:40, 1:45)
= 5250 yards

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A nice light week

This is almost like a taper week,
nice, light swims before the New Year's Workout and the January Jam, next month.

Buoy 1000 (***alternate breathing pattern every 50)
Swim: 500 (7:30) / 4 x 100 (1:30) / 300 (4:30) / 4 x 50 (:45) / 100
Big Paddle: 2 x 500 (7:30) 25 Catch-up / 100 free
Swim: 2 x 50 / 200 / 3 x 100 / 400 / {2 x 50/ 100/ 2 x 50/ 100/ 2 x 50}
Tube: 1000 ***
= 6000 yards

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Bertha

Bert & me :)
Such a special day,
1st day I get to play with my toys in the water and I get to honor my friend, receptionist, office manager, crew member, Bertha Eurto's birthday, you can guess what age she is today. Bert has helped kayak for me, and was witness to my successful Double crossing of the English Channel on July 27-28, 2001. She says I added 10 years to her age, but I know it probably was the reverse.
THANK YOU Bertha for everything you have done and will do for me in the future, you're a GREAT friend.

400's  and lots of 50's today, all the 50's were on :45 seconds, the 400's were leisure swims with the toys.

400 Buoy (**alternate breathing pattern every 50
10 x 50 swim
400 Big Paddle (25 catch-up drill/100 free)
10 x 50
400 Tube **
24 x 50
400 Tube
10 x 50
400 Big Paddle
10 x 50
400 Buoy
= 5600 yards

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow Day

Technically today was a day off, but what a workout the SNOW gave to me.
5 driveway passes, clearing out the snow for New Year's Eve fire and some abdominal work.

I couldn't wait for my hot bath.

Tomorrow will be easy, back to the pool for a special birthday set..

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

Sunday, December 26, 2010

12th day of Christmas ,,, is finally over

Amy Kalisher & me, her 2nd day back in the water.
After a well needed rest, the final Christmas swim was completed. 8am, the early morning regulars waited patiently for the doors of the Mansfield Community Center to open before the predicted snow to fly. I wanted to get my final yards before the weather changed for the worse.

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Twelve Five-Hundreds (12 x 500)

No drills, just mixing up the time standards.
1-3: on the 7:30
4-6: on the 7:25
7-9: on the 7:20
10-12: on the 7:15
= 6,000 yards

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Day OFF,
enjoying family, friends and the spirit of the season.

Peace on Earth

11th Day of Christmas

Bonus swim last night at the MHS Alumni swim meet, it's mostly a boy event, but a few gals represented the feminine side of the school, Hannah Packer, Ashley Peterson (my counter for the 500) and me (Class of 1981).

My highlight of the meet, the 200 Medley relay with my 3 Collins nephews,
me (Backstroke), Tom (Breaststroke), Pat (Fly), Jim (Free), 2nd place after the teenage boys.

Lots of sprinting, give me the miles.
6:25 for the 500, last place, double lapped by Kevin Ehlich (5:11), how depressing for a short time, then I remembered I could be these young ones mom.

11th Day of Christmas

...on the day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Eleven Six-Hundreds (11 x 600) all on 9:05
feeling much better than yesterday, water doesn't feel so heavy today.

#1: 25 Catch- up drill (CU) / 75 free
#2: 25 CU / 125 free
#3: 25 CU / 175 free
#4: 25 CU / 225 free
#5: 25 CU / 275 free

#6: 600 free (8:45)

#7 - 11... work way back (5-1) w/ Modified Catch-up Drill (MCU)
= 6,600 (shorter) yards, 

Thank goodness Ken Bockus showed for the final 3, nice to have some company.

Merry Christmas Eve everyone.
Dream, Prepare, Succeed

Thursday, December 23, 2010

10th Day of Christmas

Dover under a blanket of white, very rare.
Getting tired, the water felt VERY heavy today.
I had a difficult time making my regular intervals, added a few seconds and put this one in the books.

...on the 10th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Ten, Seven-Hundreds (10 x700)

#1: 25 Catch-Up drill (CU) / 75 Free (10:45)
#2: 25 Modified Catch-Up Drill / 125 Free (10:40)
#3: 25 CU / 175 Free (10:40)
4: Middle 100 (4th) MCU (10:40)

#5: Full Stroke Free (10:30)
#6:   "      "          "        "

#7: Middle 100 (4th) CU
#8: 25 MCU / 175 Free
#9: 25 CU / 125 Free
#10: 25 MCU / 75 Free
= 7000 yards / 71,000 Christmas yards

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

9th day of Christmas

9th day in the water, weather is cooperating, should be about to accomplish this goal.

On the 9th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Nine, Eight-Hundreds  (9 x 800)

#1, #2, #8 and #9: Alternate MCU and CU drill every 200 yards  (12:00)

#3:   NO drill, push the 1st 200  (11:45)
#4:   No drill:  push the 2nd 200

#5: PUSH the entire 800 (11:30)

#6: No drill: push the 3rd 200
#7: No drill: push the 4th 200
=7200 yards (64,000 Christmas yards)

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

8th Day of Christmas

I am looking forward to playing with my toys,  patience....

on the 8th Day of Christmas, my true love gave gave to me,

Eight, Nine-Hundreds  (8 x 900) (make it easy, take :15 seconds rest)

#1 and #9: alternate Modified Catch up and Catch up every 6th length
#2 and #8:    "        MCU and CU every 12th length

#3 and #7: PUSH... Strong 900, No Drill

#4 and #5:  alternate MCU and CU every 18th
= 7200 yards (56,800 Christmas yards)

I'm listening to my body, when the muscles are screaming, I back off and go easier.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

Monday, December 20, 2010

7th Day of Christmas

... on the 7th of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Seven One Thousands (7 x 1000) (goes by faster than you think)
#1 and #7: alternate MCU and CU drill every 5th length (15:00)
#2 and #6:     "           "        "     "     "    every 10th length (14:45)
#3 and #5:     "           "        "     "     "    every 20th length (500) (14:45)
#4: PUSH, use your hips to help increase speed. (14:00)

= 7000yards / 42,600 Christmas yards

You should be getting into very good shape by now.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

Sunday, December 19, 2010

6th Day of Christmas

... on the 6th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Beautiful Eagleville Dam (Coventry) after the morning swim

Six, Twelve Hundreds (6 x 1200) on the 18 minutes

This was day 7 in the water, must watch out for over use syndromes, so more drill thrown into the routine, not looking at any speed work. I do enjoy the company of my swim buddy, Ken Bockus, he likes to do 200's and take a 50 off.

My legs are really getting a workout, my right hamstring feels like it going to cramp anytime, even while I'm resting, looks like I'll need to schedule a massage soon.

#1: Alternate Modified Catch-up drill (MCU) w/ Catch-up Drill (CU) every 5th length
#2: Alternate MCU and CU every 6th length
#3: Alternate MCU and CU every 7th length
#4:    "             "        "     "    every 8th    "
#5:    "             "        "      "      "      9th   "
#6:  Alternate MCU and CU every 10th length

I really like to take Sunday off from the pool, but the weather is cooperating and I think I'm going to make it through this challenge.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

Saturday, December 18, 2010

5th Day of Christmas

On the 5th of Christmas, my true love gave to me ...

Five Fourteen Hundreds ( 5 x 1400)
#1: Alternate Catch-up drill (CU) and Modified Catch-up every 100 yards
#2: Alternate CU & MCU every 200 yards
#3: Alternate CU & MCU every 300 yards
#4: Alternate CU & MCU every 400 yards
#5: Alternate CU & MCU every 500 yards

= 7000 yards / 35,400 Christmas yards

Betty Dziadus, me & Agnes Romayko, 2008 Manchester Sports Hall of Fame

I was very distracted today, from the news of the fight at my Alma mater, Manchester High School. 20 students arrested for fighting. Gang violence. Why don't the youth of today realize, life is hard enough WITH an education and VIOLENCE does NOT solve anything. The OPPORTUNITIES that they miss, so very dis-heartening.

Sadness and Disappointment. 

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

Friday, December 17, 2010

4th Day of Christmas

I was going to mix the 1800's up with some other strokes, but as today was day 5 in the water,
Me & my buddy, Jeri Hepworth (middle distance)
I started to feel my wrist muscles more than I should,
so I decided to stay with my least stressful stroke on my body, trusty freestyle.

I added some drills, alternating Modified catch-up (MCU) with Catch-up Drill (CU), and that helped stretch and relax the muscles.

We're anticipating some snow on Monday, so I may have to add some yardage for next week, to make up for the day off.

On 4th day of Christmas, my true gave to me...

4 x 1800
#1- Alternating 25 Modified Catch-up w/ 25 Catch-up Drill, every 300 yards (on 26:45)
#2- Alternate MCU w/ CU, every 600 yards (on 26:30)
#3- Alternate MCU w/ CU, every 900 yards (on 26:15)
#4- Full stroke
= 7200 yards / 28,400 Christmas yards

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

Thursday, December 16, 2010

3rd Day of Christmas

John Lenard and me
As the song continues,
on the 3rd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

3rd Day of Christmas

3 x 2400 on the 35 1/2 minutes.
Sounds boring but it actually was a good day.

#1 the 1st 25 of each 600 was Catch-up drill
#2 and 3 were swimming, Long and strong.
= 7200 yards/ 21,200 Christmas yards

Happy to have my friend John doing some sprinting next to me and keeping me honest.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2nd Day of Christmas

I forgot to tell you, if you are following these workouts, and you don't have the time or you just don't want to swim freestyle all the time; you can cut the practices in half and work more sprinting, or throw some fly, back or breaststroke into the mix.
Ken and me, he likes sprinting and breaststroke, good grief
.... But for me, distance and freestyle go together. I watch the clock and try to be consistent at the 500 mark. I'm not swimming fast, unless I feeling real good or have some company for the challenge. Ken Bockus was practicing today, THANK YOU.

2nd Day of Christmas

Two 3500's ( 1st one, I put a 25 of Modified Catch-up at the beginning of each 500)

= 7000 yards/ 14,000 Christmas yards

A little boring, but not as much as yesterday, grease necessary today.

I can feel my lats from yesterday, must be getting into some form of 'shape'.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

1st day of Christmas (Final Story by: Steve Hamel)

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
It's that time of year, I hope my health hangs in there and I can complete my 12 days of Christmas workouts. This time it should be easier, less yardage but the key will be "consistency". Can I get to the water everyday before Christmas, I hope the weather cooperates, we had some white.

Pick a total yardage #, and that will be the start up #, I'm using 7,000 (seven is my lucky, favorite #), and  I will work closely around that number.


1st day of Christmas

One 7000 ( Spice up your swim w/ a 25 of another stroke, a drill, or an IM ... JUST keep moving.) 

            While enjoying a bike ride in September in Hawaii, open water swimmer Marcy MacDonald’s foot slipped off the pedal of her bike and a metal stud on the pedal to cut a gash in her shin, which required over 40 stitches.  Worse, the cut has kept her out of the water for two months.
            “It just cut through my leg like butter,” MacDonald said.  “I wish I could say it was a shark that got me.”
            At least if it was a shark, it would have happened in the place where MacDonald is the most comfortable—in the water.
MacDonald, 47, of Andover, has swum the English Channel 10 times and aspires to break the American record of 14.  In 1994, she became the first Connecticut woman to swim the English Channel.  In 2001, she was the first American woman to cross the channel both ways in one swim.
She hopes she’ll be healthy enough to return to the water in three weeks and resume her rigorous training regimen.  In the meantime, MacDonald will continue doing upper body workouts and killing time watching old television shows like “Mr. Ed” and the “Patty Duke Show.”
“I like to train,” MacDonald said.  “That’s one thing that’s killing me with this injury because I can’t train.”
MacDonald has been swimming most of her life.  She swam competitively in high school and with a club team until she was 17 years old.  She went to college at American International on a softball scholarship, but often snuck into the pool at nearby Springfield College, because her school did not have one.
One day while visiting Manhattan, MacDonald noticed people swimming around the island.  She thought they were crazy at first, but in 1993, she decided to give it a try.  The 28.5 mile swim around Manhattan Island was MacDonald’s first big open water swim and it served as a trial run for her first attempt at swimming the English Channel a year later.
            In the days leading up to MacDonald’s first English Channel attempt, Freda Streeter, a woman known as the “Channel General” for helping channel swimmers train in Dover Harbour, told MacDonald she would never make it across the channel after seeing her cut a training session short.  But MacDonald successfully completed the swim in 10 hours and 33 minutes.  Shortly after emerging from the water, Streeter had one question for MacDonald, “When are you going to do a double?”
            No American woman had ever crossed the English Channel twice in the same swim.  “Freda planted that seed of a double and it became a very strong passion,” MacDonald said.
            MacDonald successfully completed her first double in 2001, swimming to France and back in 21 hours and 19 minutes, and she is considering an even longer swim.  “Am I ever going get over there to do a triple?  Maybe,” she said.
Swimming has always been MacDonald’s passion.  As a sole-practitioning podiatrist, she is able to take time off to coordinate her swims.  She has swum all over the world including Hawaii, Bermuda and Jersey, but her favorite swim is the English Channel, where she knows there are no large animals and the water is phosphorescent at night.
MacDonald does most of her training at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Conn.  “I’m pretty fortunate being here in Connecticut,” she said.  “I find it’s a pretty good place to train.”
Spending hours at a time in the water can get boring, so MacDonald often counts her strokes to pass the time.  She says it takes her approximately 45,000 strokes to cross the English Channel.
When she’s hungry during a swim, a member of MacDonald’s crew hands her a high-powered carbohydrate shake mixed with warm water.  Her crew guides her across the channel in a boat, which she swims next to.  “You can’t touch the boat or the swim is aborted,” she said.
            She intends to swim the channel twice next year, which would put her just two crossings behind American record holder Peter Jurzynski.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Shake it up w/ some FLY (story by Michael Ferraro)

Wow, did I work hard today, thanks to my Seattle friend, Scott Lautman. A butterflier (beautiful to watch) turns 58 today. He happens to be the oldest one of the 4 friends having B-days today, all are swimmers, so I hope they all get in the water today. Marty McMahon, who is the 1st CT resident to swim the English Channel is 48. Elizabeth Greenstein, my friend and fellow coach from the 92nd Street YM-YWHA (during my Manhattan years) is having a birthday and young Eric Spazzarrini, LEHY alumnus, is 20 today, another good butterflier, but I think his university is having him swim backstroke.
Liz Greeenstein

Workout: red-faced and breathing hard. No toys, just you and the water.

***During the swim 100's: Rotate a 25 of Butterfly into the 100. For example, I started with the 1st 25 on #1, the 2nd 25 on the #2, etc.
The SWIM 100's were alternating 1:35 and 1:40 intervals
The DRILL 100 was on the 2:00

200 (modified Catch-up drill: MCU)
Swim 10 x 100  ***
100 ( Catch-up Drill: CU)
Swim: 8 x 100 ***
100 MCU
Swim: 6 x 100 ***
100 CU
Swim: 4 x 100 ***
100 MCU
Swim 2 x 100 ***
100 CU
Swim: 4 x 100 ***
100 MCU
Swim: 6 x 100 ***
100 CU
Swim 8 x 100 *** (Breathing very hard during this set)
100 MCU
Swim 10 x 100 *** (can the arms get out of the water, concentrate on good technique)
200 CU
= 7000 yards

Dream, Prepare, Succeed
By Michael Ferraro
STORRS- Marcy MacDonald is going through withdrawal right now but not from a drug. She’s going through withdrawal because she hasn’t been able to swim in over three months-an eternity to her.        
MacDonald has swum the English Channel a total of 10 times, a feat that accomplished one time might make a person happy. But not MacDonald, who would like to swim the Channel many more times. But first she has to get back into the water. “I don’t mind practicing, I like practicing. It’s killing me not to train. It’s driving me crazy,” said MacDonald.       
            Right now MacDonald is finding it hard to adjust to life without swimming. For her was is like torture because as she said, “It’s become my life, It’s became my passion.” MacDonald injured herself during a cycling accident where she received 40 stitches to her shin. “ I knew right away, the steel studded paddles cut through my leg like butter,” said MacDonald.
Without swimming MacDonald as a lot of free time on her hands, “I’m reconnecting with TV shows like Mr. Ed, The Patty Duke Show and the BBC News, I’m bored,” said MacDonald. “My birthday wish, is just to get into the pool, even if it is for 45 seconds,” said MacDonald, who turns 48 on November 24.
            MacDonald is an accomplished long distance swimmer but it is not her profession. She is a solo-practicing podiatrist, which gives her time to plan and take some time off from the office in order to train and complete her many different swims. In 1994 she became the first Connecticut woman to swim the English Channel. She did it in 10 hours and 33 minutes. MacDonald decided to step up her goals as a swimmer.        
            At first she had no idea what a double is, which is swimming from England to France, then from France to England. “Freda Streeter (The Channel General and mother of “Chanel Queen” Alison Streeter) planted a seed in my brain to do the double. I tried to a double in 1997 but got injured after completing one,” said MacDonald. She tried to complete the double again in 2000 but seven hours left in the second leg of the double, her mind got the best of her “I was cold so I got out of the water,” said MacDonald. In 2001 MacDonald finally completed the double that she had been chasing for over four years. It took her 21 hours and 19 minutes. Looking back MacDonald said, “I should have done my triple then because I haven’t had decent water since.”  
            When swimming for long hours, some people might not be able to handle it, not just because of the endurance it takes to do the swim but the mental aspect of being alone in pitch black. MacDonald uses something as simple as counting the number of strokes to keep her mind off the boredom of long distance swimming. “Through the years you can let your mind go, I really don’t try to think about those things. The little demons in our head tell us to stop,” said MacDonald.
            “You can’t touch the boat, once you touch the boat it’s over. One of the hardest things to do is touch the boat and say I’m done. Also wet suits are prohibited in the English Channel,” said MacDonald. In order for swimmers to feed their crewmembers need to give them their food because if a swimmer touches the boat their race is over.
            Swimming is probably one of the most boring sports MacDonald even admitted it herself but that still doesn’t take away from the accomplishments that they reach. “I think more people are seeing swimming as a very tough sport,” said MacDonald. Her next goal is to try and complete the triple, which only has been done three times before by John Erikson in 1981, Phillip Rush in 1987 and Alison Streeter in 1990. If MacDonald completes it, she will be the oldest woman ever to complete the three trips across the English Channel. MacDonald, however, has to first get back into the water, so she probably won’t try for the triple for at least a year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Celebrate the Light (story by Tommy Cassell)

20 years ago, 11pm would have been the start of the party, now, time to get in the car, get home and enter zzzzland. 
Funny how our perceptions of life and fun change as we age: during our youth, we celebrate the night, being night owls and as we age, we look forward to the new dawn and breaking day, to make the most of those hours in the light, becoming early morning lark.

Today, I don't know if I'll 'exercise' (structured) at all, may be too busy getting the house ready for the Christmas and some baking later. It's OK, no guilt, tomorrow is Monday, and the water will be ready for my touch.

The water is Marcy MacDonald’s solace.
In 1994, the swimmer found peace while swimming the English Channel and for 16 years didn’t stopped
cutting through the comforting tide before a shin injury in September sidelined the 47-year-old swimmer.
Now out of the water, MacDonald passes her time watching the television show, “Mr. Ed”, working out, and planning her crossing of the English Channel.  She hopes to build off of her past achievement of swimming the Channel back-and-forth, by adding one more crossing to her regimen someday soon.

MacDonald, a self-employed podiatrist from Andover, didn’t always possess a love for swimming.  Although she grew up in Manchester and swam on a club team, her first true love was softball, which she went on to play at American International.  Busy with schoolwork and softball, MacDonald only jumped into the pool every once in awhile since she didn’t have much free time during the school year.

But when she started to lifeguard during her college summers, MacDonald started participating in triathlons that included running, biking, and swimming. “I hated running and biking,” MacDonald said, “But the swimming was always the best.”
She ditched the triathlons and started participating in swimming competitions after graduating.  Then one day, MacDonald saw people swimming around Manhattan Island. She thought they were crazy.  However, MacDonald soon joined the people she called foolish swimming around Manhattan, as her true affection for swimming finally began.  
“Three years later, I was swimming in the ocean with them,” MacDonald said, “It became my life.  It became my passion, it’s not a money-making sport, and I’m not a very bad girl.”

MacDonald’s first trial of the English Channel came in 1994, as she swam from the coast of the Channel to coast of France in 10 hours and 33 minutes.  Soon after her first trial, a woman named Freda Streeter planted a seed in her head about trying a double crossing.  So in 1997, MacDonald attempted a double but was forced stop her effort due to a triceps injury. 

But she wouldn’t let the setback deter her from trying the double again.  In 2000, she had the fastest crossing over to France than any other swimmer but on the way back to England, to complete the double, she got very cold and decided to quit her endeavor. “My mind beat my body and I was cold,” MacDonald said, “So I got out of the boat and immediately I was booking [a double for] the next year.”

Finally in 2001, MacDonald completed a double of the English Channel in 21 hours and 19 minutes, an accomplishment she said she appreciated much more a few years ago than she does nowadays.
Now, temporarily out of the water, MacDonald reflects on her previous accomplishments and also about the dangers and logistics of her swimming adventures.“Through the years, it goes through your mind, ‘oh my god what’s going to get me,’” MacDonald said, “I try not to think about those things but I do.”
But, she insists she’s not scared of the creatures swimming below her because she knows that she’s one of the bigger fishes in the water.  MacDonald often reflects on her time spent swimming in Hawaii where tiger sharks lurk in the warm waters, but her joy of swimming in exotic and different places trump the dangers of marine life in the water with her. 

Nothing is flashy about MacDonald’s art of swimming.  She prefers a freestyle stroke when she is alone in the water, swimming at 3 mph and counting her cycle of strokes to help her concentrate on anything other than her long journey and its boredom.  She wears a one-piece swimsuit, swimming cap, and $10 pair of goggles. 

A ‘pedro’ boat follows her as she swims, which is filled with a team of six people who count her strokes, navigate the ocean, and provide her with a high-powered carbohydrate soup that gives her strength to swim.

The one thing she doesn’t need help with is calculating the distance she has left in her swim, as she tells the ships captain, Mike Oram, not to give her specifics. "I don’t want to know the time or distance,” MacDonald said, “I’m just a fish in the water.”

Unfortunately for MacDonald, she’s a fish out of water now due to a bicycling accident that required 40 stitches on her shin and significant time to heal.  She hasn’t been able to swim for two months, but with her birthday and Thanksgiving coming up, she has just one wish.

“I just want to get back into the pool,” MacDonald said, “I would love to just swim.”

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's scary when your friends turn 60. (story by William Penfield)

A day or 2 away from the water, getting the house ready for the Christmas holidays and a birthday celebration for a good friend, Betty Anagiro, 60 years old, wow.
Dryland exercises this morning, 60 is #, Ab's, free weights, push ups... working the core, just got to get off my butt and do them, NOW.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed.

            Most people would not attempt to swim across the cold waters of the English Channel. Marcy MacDonald has made a life out of it.
            MacDonald, the first American woman to complete the English Channel double swim, has been swimming long distance ever since 1993 when she swam 28 ½ miles around Manhattan Island, a 28 ½ mile swim.
            But after her most recent swim in Hawaii, MacDonald injured her leg, a mishap that would ground her for months.
            In Hawaii while prepping for a bike ride in September, her foot slipped off the pedal. Her shin was ripped open by the jagged edges on the pedal. She got over 40 stitches in her shin in an area that has to heal on its own.
            MacDonald is embarrassed by the injury. “I wish I could say a shark got me,” she said.
            Since her injury has kept her out of the water, she has been working out daily at home for about an hour and a half and reconnecting with TV shows, such as “Mr. Ed.”
            MacDonald completed her first successful swim across the channel in 1994 with a time of 10 hours and 33 minutes. She has completed 10 crossings in total.
            To swim the channel, certain requirements are required by the Channel Swimming Association, in England. A crew needs to be hired to follow in a boat and each swimmer has to complete a 10-mile trial swim.
            No wet suits are allowed, a bathing suit, cap and goggles is the extent of the equipment one is allowed to wear.
            MacDonald said each trip across the channel could cost up to $10,000 in expenses.
            A few days after she completed her first channel swim, Freda Streeter, the mother of the Queen of the Channel (Alison Streeter), told her she was in disbelief that she made it from England to France. She then asked when she was coming back to swim a double.
            MacDonald did not even know what a double was but immediately figured it was something she wanted to compete. Streeter told her that no American woman has completed a double and only five women accomplishing the feat worldwide.
            “Freda Streeter planted the see in my brain to complete the double,” MacDonald said.
            Between 1994 and 2001, MacDonald would go back to England three times but failed to complete it due to injury, weather and mental mistakes.
            In 2001, MacDonald’s captain, Mike Gorman, suggested a change in her approach to the double, which ultimately led to its completion that year.
            She said Gorman told her she was going to swim to France, take a very short break, get back into the water then rest on the boat until she started the swim back to England. This strategy helped MacDonald mentally because in her mind, at the time of her break, she was already on her way back to England.
            “My suggestion to people who want to complete a double is not to stay on land for a long time,” she said.
            She successfully completed the double attempt with a time of 21 hours and 19 minutes.
            MacDonald completed her second double in 2004. Then wanted to do a triple but ended up injuring herself.
            When swimming the Channel, it is essential to take in calories before and during the swim because athletes burn off over 800 calories per hour.
            Feeding during the swim is not easy because, by rule, they are not allowed to touch the boat or else the swim is over. People on the boat have to hand her food.
            MacDonald said she brings food that has a heavy carbohydrate concentration to replenish her body and give her energy.
            MacDonald admits that swimming is a boring sport and many people avoid it due to that fact.
            To stave off of boredom and to keep her mind active, “I count the cycle of my strokes,” she said. “It’s kind of a weird thing, but it works for me.”
            MacDonald and her crew even counted the strokes it took her to get across the English Channel, 45,000 in total.
            Other swims she has completed include a swim around the British island of Jersey, a swim around the Hawaiian Islands, swims in Bermuda and a swim around Manhattan Island but her favorite is the English Channel.
            “I’ve accepted that I’m a really good English Channel swimmer,” she said.
            In the future, MacDonald looks to attack the record for most English Channel crossings by an American. She already holds the record for most crossings by an American woman at 10 but wants to beat Peter Jurzynski’s record of 14 before retiring from the sport.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday is such a wonderful word (story by Adam Giardino)

Krista at the other 'pool'
I love Fridays, especially if I've trained consistently through the week, no make up yardage and possibly a shorter practice, like today. Top it off that my younger (softball teammate) friend, Krista Badsteubner turns an easy 42 and the day is starting fine. Happy Birthday Krista, enjoy the day and year.

I think we'll do 1000's today.

On the 1000's, work long, strong and deliberate strokes, don't rush, work on efficiency.

Tube: 1000 (alternate breathing every 50)
Big Paddles: 1000 ( 25 catch-up: 100 free...)
Swim: 2 x 100 (all out on the 2 min) GET THE HEART GOING (1:16 and 1:14, yes)
Big Paddles: 1000
Buoy: 1000
= 4200 yards

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

            Almost as if her hands possessed superpowers, English Channel swimmer Marcy MacDonald churns up a potion of fluorescence with each stroke she takes in the midnight hours of her journeys between England and France.
            This illumination acts as MacDonald’s guiding light in the dead of night and the pitch black waters of the English Channel where her guide boat, her wandering thoughts and a few tireless stars are her only other company.
            MacDonald, who was born in Manchester, Conn. and currently resides in Andover, Conn., was the first American woman to swim the Channel both ways in one attempt, known as a double. She also holds the American record for total Channel crossings with 10 and is looking to break Peter Jurrzynski’s American record for either gender for total Channel crossings which is currently 15.
            Her latest attempt to train for a Channel crossing has been derailed by a right shin injury she sustained bike riding in Hawaii. MacDonald slipped her right foot off the pedal and her shin got ripped open by a steel peg on the bicycle. As soon as it happened she knew how serious it was and immediately laid on the ground and elevated her leg. The gash required 40 stitches and has taken two months to heal- and she’s still three to four weeks away from returning to the water. More than anything, the 47-year old who describes herself as a fish wants to be back in the water and wishes she had a more daring story about the injury to tell her friends. “It would be less embarrassing if I could tell them I got bitten by a shark,” she said.
            Since being out of the water, coworkers and friends have come up to her and asked if she is anxious or upset about something because she seems different. MacDonald attributes it to the lack of time in the pool. She gushes over the way a multi-hour session in the pool clears her head and makes her feel better, and she has filled her free time that was once spent swimming laps by watching reruns of “Mr. Ed” and “Patty Duke” and doing upper body workouts.
As she awaits the opportunity to attempt her 11th crossing of the Channel, she can’t believe her first single (swimming from England to France one-way) came back in 1994. At the time she was satisfied with her accomplishment and never thought that she would have crossed the Channel nine more times over the next 16 years. “I just thought you do it and go on with your life,” she said. “Well, it has since become my life.”
            Whether it was swimming laps at Manchester Center Community Pool or being a lifeguard over summer break, MacDonald was always around water growing up. Despite her love for swimming and her natural gift at it, she attended American International College (AIC) in Springfield, Mass. on a softball scholarship. However, in those four years she often stole away to nearby Springfield College to swim laps in the pool in her spare time. “Being in the water just relieved me of all the stresses that go along with being a collegiate athlete with no time to yourself,” she said. “Finding out that swimming was an outlet for me helped me get through my four years at AIC.”
For professional work, MacDonald practices podiatry and is in her 18th year as a practitioner in Connecticut. This allows her to be able create her own work schedule and train and travel overseas for the length of time necessary to attempt Channel-crossings. Often times her work-life goes on hold for weeks as she trains and travels to England to swim the Channel.
Each swim costs about $3,500 dollars and that doesn’t include the cost of travel or lodging. Some people would say that MacDonald is eccentric for spending that much money for something she has already done 10 times before, but she bristles at the notion. For her, every penny is worth it. “Some people have come up to me and said, ‘nice hobby,’” she said. “I call it a passion.”
            Her best time crossing the English Channel came in 2000 when she completed one leg in 9 hours 42 seconds. This attempt was part of a planned double, but “on the way back I got cold and my mind got cold,” she said. “Our minds are so strong and we are so weak. We have little demons in our minds telling us we can’t do things.”
            How does MacDonald stay focused during training sessions that can run in excess of four hours and Channel-crossings that take in excess of 10 hours each way?
            “I usually count the cycle of my strokes the whole time. I guess I found my obsessive-compulsive desire,” she laughs.
MacDonald has gained publicity in a few large, mainstream publications for her accomplishments. Sports Illustrated honored her as one of its Faces in the Crowd in a 1990’s and the Hartford Courant has published four articles featuring her since 1994.
She knows however, that in spite of her own publicity and the increased popularity of the sport since Michael Phelps took the country by storm by winning five gold medals in the 2008 Summer Olympics, swimming will never be a cash cow. “Michael has done a tremendous service to the sport in increasing its popularity, but everyone knows that only two or three people can make enough money swimming through sponsorships and competitions to make a living off of it,” she said.
            In early November, as her 4th birthday approaches and her return to the water nears, MacDonald is even more anxious to get back in the pool. Each year she celebrates her birthday, in a way that only a fish-at-heart could: with a long swim. She says it is frustrating to be out of the water but more than that is it’s “killing” her that she can’t do one of her “crazy birthday swims” this year.
As her shin heals and it approaches time for MacDonald to regain her gills, her friends who were left wondering why they have seen a change in her always-cheerful attitude, will start to see a change back to the bubbly MacDonald they all know so well. “For my sanity and the sanity of everyone around me, I just need to get back in the pool- now,” she said.
            When she finally cuts the water again with her first stroke, it will be the first of many on the road to getting back the confidence she needs to cross the Channel.
Until then, attempt No. 11 through the churning, fluorescent, deep waters of the English Channel remain a distant goal for MacDonald, albeit a familiar one.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

You're the Best, Kael (story by Brandon Gearing)

 Amy and Kaeley Steinnagel
My dear friend, Kaeley Steinnagel reaches 35 years old today. We have had a wonderful time coaching together for the Laurel East Hartford YMCA. I am blessed to have her in my circle of family-friends.

Easy workout to remember, all swimming, no toys, just down to the basics. Play and challenge yourself w/ your intervals of rest.
35 x 200
 These are my intervals, (adjust according to your speed, I was getting 12 sec. rest on the 3 min, 6 on the 2:55)
# 1-10: (3:00) warm-up and stretch
#11-20: One on 2: 55, 2 on 3:00...
#21-30: alternate 2:55 and 3:00
#31-35: all 2:55 really felt the torso and hips working here.
The machine is back.
Dream, Prepare, Succeed
Fresh out of the water after one of her many swims, Marcy MacDonald, one of the country’s most accomplished long-distance swimmers, set out for a bike ride to relax and unwind on the island of Maui, Hawaii.
With one slip of her foot, MacDonald was forced out of the water for more than two months, her pedal slicing through her leg much like the way her hand carved through the water of the English Channel on numerous occasions.
MacDonald, the first American woman to do a double-cross of the Channel, writhed in pain as she applied pressure to the wound, fearing the worst.
“I knew I had to head to the hospital,” she said.
43 stitches later, MacDonald left the hospital with orders to stay out of the water, not exactly an easy task for a woman who has crossed the English Channel 10 times and is used to swimming an average of 30 to 50 thousand yards per week.
For MacDonald, who just turned 47, swimming is as passion. In fact, for her birthday on Nov. 24, she said she would like nothing more than to step foot in the water.
“If I could just swim for 45 seconds, I’d be happy,” she said.
And 45 seconds is just a blip on the radar for someone who has been in the water for as long as 21 straight hours. MacDonald accomplished that feat during her first double-crossing of the English Channel in 2001. 
The swim from England to France and back again is a grueling one, MacDonald said. She has completed it two times but admits she has failed on other attempts.
The swim is unpredictable she says, and during perhaps her strongest swim to date, a 9 hour and 42 minute swim one way in 2000, MacDonald struggled on the way back.
“It was like a mental breakdown knowing that I had to swim all the way back,” she said. “I was cold and gave up.”
With waters hovering between 50 and 60 degrees and sometimes rough conditions, the English Channel Swimming Association doesn’t let just anyone attempt the swim. In order to even qualify, you must complete an application through its website and be able to complete a 10-hour qualifying swim.
While that is enough to scare most people away, this is part of MacDonald’s normal swim routine. She has participated in a number of other swims that take 10 or more hours to complete, including a swim around Manhattan, New York, the island of Jersey in the United Kingdom, in Hawaii from Lanai to Maui and around Long Island, to name a few.
These long, grueling swims can be boring MacDonald said, as swimmers travel at an average speed of only 3 mph.
“I do a lot of counting [to cope with the boredom],” she said. “It’s kind of a weird thing, but it works for me.”
MacDonald spends her hours counting her strokes and has the numbers to prove it. At her estimation, it takes approximately 45 thousand strokes to cross the Channel. At that rate, with the Channel measuring at 21 miles across at its shortest point, MacDonald swims at a rate of about 2,142 strokes per mile and 6,429 strokes per hour.
Because swimmers sometimes have to battle a rough current, they are forced to swim in somewhat of an “S” shape, causing the actual swim times to vary because of the different distances they end up traveling. 
No one travels these distances alone, as each swimmer is accompanied by a 25-foot “Pedro” boat with a small crew. The crew consists of a boat captain and hand-picked members of a team to help you along the way. Their jobs include things like feeding you during brief break periods.
MacDonald said in order to gain nourishment, she drinks a special mixture of soup and electrolyte-fortified juice. Some swimmers choose to eat sandwiches, too, she said.
While feeding, swimmers are not allowed to touch the boat or they will be disqualified. So, during that time, MacDonald treads water.
“I’ve always been good at treading water, so it doesn’t bother me,” she said.
MacDonald learned that skill while growing up in Manchester, Conn. There, she swam all throughout her youth on a club team and into high school.
Instead of continuing swimming in college, she actually earned herself a softball scholarship and played at American International University.
“I wasn’t a fast swimmer,” she said. “I have slow-twitch muscles. They aren’t meant for sprints.”
Because of this, the future English Channel swimmer was looked over by college coaches, and it wasn’t until MacDonald watched some people swimming around Manhattan that she became interested in swimming again.
“I thought, ‘what a crazy swim,’” she said. “And then, a year later I was doing it.”
Since then, MacDonald has made swimming a huge part of her life. By day she is a podiatrist, but her real passion lies in the open-water.

2015 ... Swimming for Homes for the Brave

After spending the past 20 years paddling from Dover to France, it is time to venture into new waters, while helping some special people.
Soon, I will be traveling with my A-team to Scotland to swim the length of the famous Loch Ness.
As always, I try to help a Foundation raise funds and awareness and I thank you for interest and support.
I am deeply troubled with the thought of homeless individuals, especially in our US Veteran population.

That is why I am teaming up with our Connecticut-based “Homes for the Brave”. Can you imagine not having a place to call home?

Here is more information about Homes for the Brave! -Facebook pages –

- Annual Appeal with more information about our financials and programs-

-Check donations can be mailed to the following address:
Homes for the Brave
655 Park Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06604

- Donations can be made online as well:

Please write “Loch Ness Swim/Marcy” to track your donation.

I will always be dedicating my swimming to all those battling cancer and in the memory of 4 special people in my life. Cancer first hit my family when I was young. My grand-aunt Eleanor Kersavage, passed away with uterine cancer and my Auntie Bea Halchak battled with brain cancer.

On January 1, 2002, our LEHY family lost Nikki Giampolo to bone cancer, just turning 16 years old. Her spirit still lives on in our East Hartford swim team.

In July of 2009, my brother-in-law, Gregory Allen Urban, who passed away, after a valient battle with lung cancer. I can see him now, talking about cars and projects around the house, music and his family.

I know Aunties, Eleanor and Bea, Nikki, Greg and all the angels will help me CUT through all this water this summer.

The St. Vincent's Medical Center Foundation, based in Bridgeport, CT provides financial support for the needs that Health insurance companies don't cover, in addition to providing affordable cancer screening, wigs, medication and other things to make life easier for those suffering with cancer and their families.

Please make a donation, and thank you.

Online donations can be made at:

or you can send a check through the post to:

Swim Across the Sound
St. Vincent's Medical Center Foundation
2800 Main Street
Bridgeport, CT 06606

Thank you so very much, peace and good health to all.