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.

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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.