This year, I will be raising money for A Long Swim by committing to completing IronMan 70.3 Ohio.
Started by Doug McConnell and his sister, Ellen McConnell Blakeman in 2011, A Long Swim has raised $500,000 for ALS research, dedicated to the groundbreaking and collaborative research at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, one of the top ALS research laboratories in the world.
In 2006, shortly after Doug and Ellen’s father, Dr. David McConnell, DVM, passed away from ALS, she was diagnosed with the same disease. After a twelve-year battle with ALS, Ellen passed away on February 11, 2018.
A Long Swim borrows the ALS acronym and is dedicated to raising funds for collaborative ALS research using open water and marathon-distance swimming.
Doug McConnell, with the help of his A Long Swim Team, became only the 48th person over age 50 to swim the English Channel in 14 hours that were divided between heavy waves and pitch black darkness (not to mention jellyfish and water temps in the 50s!). The success of the English Channel swim has inspired the A Long Swim Team to continue with marathon swims, including the 24-mile length of Tampa Bay, the 21-mile distance of the Catalina Channel in California, and a 29-mile circumnavigation of Manhattan Island in New York City. The swims of the English Channel, the Catalina Channel and Manhattan Island make up the “Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming,” of which Doug was the 89th person to complete, and only the 15th person to complete all over the age of 50.
Impressed and humbled by Doug's amazing and incredible efforts, I'm going to put my efforts into the 70.3 triathlon. While my 70.3 will not be as long of a swim (and there probably won't be jellyfish or pitch black darkness), I will swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and then run 13.1 miles to raise money for this horrific illness, for which currently there is no cure.