Aug 14, 2011

Don encourages others to join his “One Stroke at a Time” journey with a donation to the District 220 Educational Foundation, 501c3, Social and Emotional Learning Programs

One stroke at a time – that is how Don Macdonald, a Barrington resident and father of a Barrington 220 student, will swim the English Channel in August 2011. 

I encourage anyone reading this blog to consider donating to this very important child developmental set of Programs being offered to the Barrington, IL area K-12 grades, backed by Northwestern clinical research and beginning implementation throughout the district and supported in part by State funding. 

Thank you for helping the children of our community and perhaps for helping yourselves.

 Don and EC map

The English Channel presents swimmers with multiple challenges:
  • Distance – 21 miles at its narrowest, closer to 30 miles when factoring tides and current.
  • Endurance – the average swim is between 13 and 14 hours.
  • Temperature – it is at its “warmest” during the July - September period, between 58 and 63 degrees.  Wetsuits are not allowed in certified swims. 
  • Traffic – It is one of the busiest commercial waterways in the world, with ferries, freighters, and fishing boats.
  • Salt water and jellyfish – irksome to the eyes and the skin.

All these factors will require resilience – both physical and mental.  Don is training to be ready for the challenge.  Follow his journey by clicking on

Resilience is an important characteristic to possess for both adults and students.  Barrington 220 is committed to helping students develop social and emotional skills that helps them navigate daily life challenges from bullying, social group dynamics and peer pressure to drugs, alcohol and more serious depression and personal violence.  These skills will prepare our students to be resilient and achieve individual success academically, interpersonally and throughout their lives and also helps parents navigate communications with their children about these challenges.  

All funds donated through “One Stroke at a Time” will be devoted to funding social emotional learning programs for Barrington 220.

Don encourages others to join his “One Stroke at a Time” journey with a tax deductible donation to the District 220 Educational Foundation, a 501c3, not for profit organization.

You can make a Donation at this link: Donation Link to 220 Foundation

SS Minnow - "My 12 Hour Cruise"

Here is a picture of my SS Minnow for the English Channel, the Sea Satin. I know she'll be more sea worthy than the Minnow but couldn't resist Looks like the rest of the crew is comfy?

For those of you that remember watching Gilligan's Island TV show growing up. I suppose in this adventure, I must be Gilligan as he is always doing the silly thing swimming the English Channel so here is some fun video and music to lighten the moment.

A good Training Day - Lake Michigan

A view of things to come. Although I am a few days from stepping on the beach in Dover, from my experience on the french side at Normandy this short video clip is what I expect to see most of the time. 

Doug and I paddled around for an hour or so with times feeling like we were body surfing. Couldn't see 2 feet in front of your hand extended in the water churned up and all, and spent more time than I cared looking up and forward to make sure I was heading north up the lake parallel to shore and not into one of the big jetties. 

"Get busy living or Get busy Dying"! 

Aug 10, 2011

Testing ones Resilience - Tragic news of a friends death

I am not sure how to present this tragic story of my friend, Craig Dieter and his family, now only survived by his wife Beck, on my blog respectfully to honor her, their souls and the others lost yet communicate the lesson of what happens when we do not raise children to be resilience. In this case a person lacking these important skills ended up choosing violence.

Testing ones resilience comes in many forms, Beck's will be tested for sure to the very core of her existence, like life itself it comes at you from the most un-beleiveable places and certainly not from this direction.

I am deeply shocked and saddened at the death of a Craig, his sister, son and other neighbors as a result of a deeply disturbed, un-stable person who decided not to be resilient and choose violence as the solution and in the process killing 6 others from two families.


Here is the news clipping, one i felt was reasonable enough to post without all the horrible graphic details:

(Copley, OH) – It all began shortly before 11am in a quiet neighborhood in Copley Ohio, west of Akron. The Copley Police Department said in a news release late Sunday that 911 calls started filtering in when cries of “A person running through the neighborhood and firing a gun” were heard throughout the neighborhood. What followed has been described as a ‘gruesome tragedy’.

At a home, the gunman Michael Hance, 51, shot his girlfriend, then ran to a home next door and shot her brother and four others. Then the gunman chased two other people through some neighbor’s yards and shot one of them, police said.

The girlfriend, Beck Dieter remains in the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, police stated.
Police still don’t have a definite motive for the shootings, but one woman, who says she was a caregiver for a couple slain in the rampage, said Hance’s confrontational behavior towards the couple caused her to leave her job. Robin Hancock said Hance was an unpleasant and strange person who was not well-liked in the neighborhood. She said Hance had become embroiled in a dispute over the will of Dieter’s late parents, and that a next-door couple who were long-time friends with Dieter’s parents had gotten involved.
That couple were among the seven whom police say Hance shot and killed.

Four of the victims were from the same family. They were identified as Autumn Johnson, 16; her father, Bryan Johnson, 44; and his parents, Russell Johnson, 67, and Gudrun Johnson, 64.

Also killed was Craig Deiter, 51, and his 11-year-old son, Scott. News outlets in Cincinnati reported Monday that the Deiters were visiting Becky, and are originally from Northern Kentucky.
Details provided by police on Monday indicated that Hance targeted the 11 year old boy specifically. According to police, Hance spotted the boy as he ran through the neighborhood and into a house. The gunman followed and forced his way inside to the basement, where five residents and Deiter were hiding. After talking with the residents, Hance allowed them to leave, but he kept the boy and shot him to death in the basement, Hirsch reported.

Hance killed his 8th victim inside one of the homes, and as he exited the home, he was met by deadly gunfire from a police officer and a citizen who used to be a police officer.

The neighborhood remained blocked off by police late Sunday. About 200 people assembled at a park around sunset for an impromptu candlelight vigil for the shooting victims in their town and crime victims elsewhere.

Wissant, France - Getting there via the path less traveled

I wanted to share with everyone a high definition picture of one of the most common landing points for swims across the English Channel. If you look very, very closely you can see the white cliffs of Dover.

Aug 6, 2011

Don Macdonald to Swim English Channel, Swam for coaches Bryan Rathke and Chris Shorthouse at Goshen High School

Don Macdonald swam for coaches Bryan Rathke and Chris Shorthouse at Goshen High School before graduating in 1980.

By Steve Krah - Elkhart Truth
What started out as an 8-mile swim around Lake Wawasee with some buddies three decades ago has led Don Macdonald to the quest of taking on the frigid waters of the English Channel.

An arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates Great Britain from northern France, the English Channel is 21 miles at its narrowest. The warmest the water ever gets - July to September - is in the range of 58 to 63 degrees. It is one of the busiest commercial waterways in the world, with ferries, freighters and fishing boats. Then there's the salt water and the jellyfish.

After years on the waiting list, the window of opportunity for Macdonald and his Barrington (Ill.) Swim Club teammate, Doug McConnell, is Aug. 20-26. A successful crossing means the pair will likely be in the water for 12 to 14 hours. 

With just a swim cap, goggles and trunks - authorities do not allow wet suits - Macdonald and McConnell will go to England, where Macdonald's cheering section will include wife Jennifer, daughter Rachel, parents Don and Jean and sister Katie - the latter three coming from Napa, Calif. Rachel and Kate are both accomplished pool swimmers.

Kate, a 1984 Goshen High School graduate, is in the Elkhart County Sports Hall of Fame. She was a three-time MVP at Indiana University and competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1984 and 1988.

Kate Macdonald and Ted (Also from the area)
While circumstances sometimes forced him to train in a pool, Macdonald has come to prefer the open water.
"Swimming in the pool is rather boring," says Macdonald. "It's just going back and forth and looking at the black lines."
Macdonald, a pool swimmer for coaches Bryan Rathke and Chris Shorthouse at Goshen High School before graduating in 1980, was joined in his first open water swim so many summers ago by Steve Conder, John Gibson and Craig Kercher.
After high school, Macdonald swam one year for coach Bob Thomas at Ball State University. He graduated from Indiana University and today is employed by UL-DQS Inc. as the Director Sustainability and Energy Quality Programs.
Daughter - Rachel
Flash forward to the present with many miles of training and years of open water competition behind him and the 49-year-old Macdonald is ready to be joined by McConnell for a chance to take on the famed open-water challenge.
"It became clear that both of us were more than capable," says Macdonald. "We have done a lot of races together."
Macdonald, who has swum at Alcatraz, Tampa, Boston, Lake Micihgan and finished high in the U.S. Masters Open Water National Championship, began training for the channel in 2008. That was a few years after a European trip had him standing on the beaches of Normandy, France.
A month ago, Macdonald was swimming 45,000 yards per week in training. He has now scaled back to less than 25,000 to allow his body to recover.
Macdonald churns out the strokes through skin burns, numb fingers, illness and so many other things that could stop him if he allowed it.
"It's mind over matter," says Macdonald. "My coach (Marcia Cleveland) tells me to work through and accept the hurdles that come to you. Because they will come."
With that attitude, Macdonald is raising awareness and funds for Barrington School District 220's emotional learning programs. He tells students and other groups about resilience and putting life in perspective.
"I'm using my experience as a treadmill to teach and learn and get the message in," says Macdonald.
Macdonald's journey can be followed in word at A GPS through Google Maps will also be imbedded in his blog and Facebook page to follow his swim across The Channel in real time.
"People can sit and drink their coffee and know that I am in the cold, cold water," says Macdonald.

Welcome to the Life of a Open Water Swimmer - My Closet, Office and Shower

For those of you who aspire to be Open Water Swimmers getting in practice time is about the same as working out at the Gym. 

For those that choose to take on a something a bit longer in distance, practice time goes up exponentially, like the English Channel swim where I have been training one month for each mile.

In practical terms, everyday, this means adapting to your circumstances and finding time every day to practice. Below is a picture from my swim this morning at Tower Beach, Winnetka, IL around 6am. You can see my closet is my car trunk (new meaning to the saying 'junk in the trunk') the shower just off left of the picture is completely open so anyone driving into the parking lot sees you, no privacy. So you shower up, shave in your swim trunks, come back to the car wrapping the towel around you and doing a 'beach change' into the days work clothes. 

Like camping, you really never get rid of the sand but that's a small price to pay for the glorious swim and rising sun shine on your shoulders, fish swimming under you and every once and awhile a fellow swimmer or kayaker. 

This morning I was all by myself which for shower time was appreciated but I don't recommend this for swimming because of safety, no matter how experienced you are.  

Aug 1, 2011

Swimming Calorie Demand Calculator

Here is a pretty good calorie calculator for swimmers that Endless Pools provides. The link is: Calorie Counter for Swimming 

Swimming Calorie Demand Calculator Swimming Calories Calculator
I have checked this against some a few references from food companies for endurance athletes and it seems to be within the ball park. For my English Channel Swim I plan to feed for about 14 hours and this totals 15,000 calories.