Monday, December 6, 2010

Dec. 5, Birthday's, Audrey, Jim. & young Tom (& story by Jack Sullivan)

Yessterday, Sunday, December 5th, was birthdays for some special people in my life.
I didn't get to the pool, because I coached my 8 & unders at the Snowball Classic in Cheshire CT.

To honor these people close to my heart, I worked their ages into a dryland workout, which consisted of sit-ups, 10 lb. free weights and push-ups.

1st set: in honor of Audrey Hamblin (my B&B hostess in Dover, my mum when I'm away): #74

74 sit-ups with a 8 lb weight
74 rapid crunches w/ weight
74 slow, full crunches

2nd set: 10 lb free weights: in honor of Tom Collins, my 19 year old nephew
19 reps of various exercises, chest press, bicep curls, tricep extensions etc.
19 push-ups

3rd set: in honor of swimming friend and channel swimmer, James Bayles: #59
Same as 1st set but only 59 reps.

Repeat 2nd set.
simple but effective

Dream, Prepare, Succeed

On a September trip to Hawaii to swim the channel between the islands of Maui and Lanai, 47-year-old Marcy MacDonald decided to take a bicycle ride during some spare time. Little did she know this ride would keep her out of the water for the next several months.
     While riding, MacDonald’s foot slipped and was ripped open by the pedal, requiring 40 stitches. “It just cut into my leg like butter,” said MacDonald. She is hoping to be back in the water in three more weeks, but for someone who lives to swim, this has been an agonizing break.
     MacDonald, a podiatrist, is the first American woman to have ever done a double crossing of the English Channel, and all together she has crossed the channel 10 times. Her first crossing came in 1994, and she has done it as recently as 2009. The American record for crossing the 21-mile channel, by male or female, is 14 times, held by Peter Jurzynski who had to quit swimming due to heart trouble. Once she’s able to swim again, MacDonald has her eyes on that record.
     MacDonald is from Manchester, Conn., where she grew up swimming on a regular basis. She swam on a club swim team in high school until she was 17, but went to American International College in Springfield, Mass., on a softball scholarship. Instead, she would often find herself in the water.
     Every summer, MacDonald said she was either a life guard, or just around water in some shape or form. She did four-mile swims as a teenager, and then began doing triathlons. She quickly gave those up because she hated running, and started doing half iron man swims, which were between five and 10 miles.
     One day in the 80s, MacDonald came across some people swimming around the island of Manhattan. “I thought to myself, ‘why would anyone do that’,” said MacDonald. “Three years later, I did it.” She continued swims around Manhattan until 1993, when she used them as a trial run to qualify her for her first English Channel crossing.
     In 1994, MacDonald completed her first crossing in 10 hours, 33 minutes. That beat the average time of 12-16 hours. After she finished the swim, she met a woman, Freda Streeter, who asked her when she was going to do a double. At the time, she thought she couldn’t do it, but Streeter reminded her that no American woman had done it yet. “Freda planted the seed in my brain about a double,” said MacDonald.
     From that point, MacDonald started training to become the first American woman to cross the channel both ways. She went back in 1997 to try the double, but she tore a triceps muscle and was sidelined for three months.
     When she returned to the water, she made a key change in her training habits. “When I was training in ’97, if I had time I would go to the pool,” said MacDonald. “But then I would take like three days off. It wasn’t a consistent practice.”
     When healthy, MacDonald swims about 2 and a half hours, five days a week. With her new routine, MacDonald went back to the channel in 1999, but was unable to swim due to inclement weather. She returned in 2000, and crossed the first way in nine hours, 42 minutes. She attempted the double, but she said she got cold and her mind was telling her she couldn’t do it. She ended the swim by touching the boat, which disqualifies the participant for the rest of the swim. “Almost immediately I was booking my trip for next year,” said MacDonald.
     In 2001, MacDonald crossed the channel once, and then instead of taking a long break before heading back, she returned to the boat to rest. “Mentally, you’re on your way back,” said MacDonald. No one told her her time or remaining distance, and she finally completed the double in 21 hours, 19 minutes. She got back to England at 1:30 a.m., after departing England at 4 a.m., the previous day.
     While swimming the channel, MacDonald said she only wears a bathing suit, cap, and “$10” goggles. She said wet suits are prohibited from English Channel swimming. “We’re trying to keep that swim as pure as possible,” said MacDonald.
     MacDonald said that she prefers cold water to warm water. She said that the water in the English Channel is consistently between 58-65 degrees, which is perfect. She mentioned that anytime one swims in warm water one must be aware of sharks and other dangerous wildlife.
     Each trip to swim the channel costs MacDonald about $10,000. She said that the flight is actually the cheapest part of the trip, and that the swim itself costs about $3,500. For her crew, she brings some people over to ride in the boat that accompanies her, which is piloted by Mike Oram, whom she credits with a large part of her success.
     While in the water, MacDonald likes to count in order to keep from getting too bored, and to keep focus. She said that she does the entire swim using the freestyle stroke, and that she swims next to the boat, as far away from the motor as possible. MacDonald also said that she burns off over 800 calories per hour while swimming, so part of her crew’s job is to hand her nutrients she needs to survive.
     So as someone who has dedicated her life to swimming, this current stretch of inactivity has been grueling for MacDonald. While she said she does enjoy catching up on old television favorites such as “Mr. Ed,” and “Patty Duke,” all she wants is to be able to get back in the water and begin training again.

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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.