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.

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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.