"CUTTING WATER" = ONE swim stroke. In 1994, my life changed while cutting through the cool waters of the English Channel, a place that brings me peace. Swimming is such a wonderful, lifelong sport, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, no matter what level you may be.
Dream, Prepare, Succeed.
- Marcella MacDonald
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.
By WILLIAM PENFIELD
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.
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?
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.