What does swimming the English Channel have to do with childhood summer camp? A Barrington man’s boyhood days at a Wisconsin camp in the 60’s were an early inspiration for one of his life’s biggest challenges. Doug McConnell is nearing the end of months of intense training to swim the English Channel this August. And in these final weeks before he takes that leap, he will be returning to Camp Edwards every Friday to teach and sharpen the mindset he knows he’ll need while alone in the open Channel waters.
The English Channel swim is a 21 to 30 mile stretch that takes an average of 13.5 hours to complete. Depending on the tides, Doug will dive in sometime between August 20th and August 27th. He will start in Dover, England and finish near Calais, France, enduring bone-chilling waters, unyielding currents and the possibility of raw weather and rain without the light of day. He’ll have a boat, a guide and brief in-water feeding breaks to keep him going and he’s been preparing to face feelings of unnerving isolation while swimming miles through frigid, inky darkness.
Between now an then, Doug will take the lead at his childhood summer camp weekly as kids take on a 1/2 mile open water swim to a small island in Lake Beulah. He hopes to show today’s campers the power of personal goals, preparation and perseverance. It’s a final exercise Doug says will also help him mentally prepare for the challenge ahead. “So much of camp is experiencing things that you’ve never experienced before. It’s working through the excitement, eliminating the fear and enabling yourself to try new things.”
Photo Courtesy of Susan McConnell
Successfully swimming the English Channel takes a carefully calculated balance between the right nutrition, practice regimen, mental preparation, team and coach.
I learned that from Doug’s companion, strongest supporter, and wife, Barrington photographer, Susan McConnell. There’s no one who knows Doug and understands his commitment to this goal like Susan does. So I asked her to share a glimpse into these last days of Doug’s training, with her own photography and in her own words. You’ll love and learn from this beautifully written guest post from Susan about Doug’s recent return to summer camp.