California, Here We Come

It is just about “go” time.

We leave for California tomorrow, and the Catalina Channel swim is scheduled for Wednesday evening into Thursday morning.  The A Long Swim team is down to final preparations, checklist checking, phone calling and hand-wringing.

Enough is enough.  I just wish someone would fire the starter’s pistol so I can start swimming.



The schedule is this:

  • Wednesday, September 26th
  • Leave Long Beach Harbor around 7:00 p.m. on the Bottom Scratcher, ably piloted by Channel veterans Greg and Carla Elliott
  • Motor out to Catalina Island
  • Start the swim around 10:00 local time from Doctor’s Cove on the east side of Catalina
  • Swim straight north and aim for Palos Verdes Peninsula (a little northwest of Long Beach Harbor) for a landing sometime on the morning of Thursday, September 27


Following Along on the Internet

If you have an interest in following along with the Catalina swim, we will have the same technology we had last year during the English Channel swim, whereby a GPS marker will be sent every ten minutes.  There aren’t too many things that can make open water swimming into a spectator sport, but this GPS technology helps.  As my sister, Ellen, has said, “Waiting for the next little marker to come up is even more exciting than waiting for the next Chilean miner to come out of the ground!”

To follow it on your computer, click in to the following link and keep your fingers crossed that we set it up correctly:


The On-Board Crew

This Catalina swim has been postponed a couple of times this summer, and the result is that some of the on-board members of A Long Swim team are in school and cannot make the trip.  This was unavoidable, but is captured in a comment that Gordy made, “I guess you’ll just have to use the B Team this year, Dad.”

Well, if this is the B Team, we are awash in superstars.  This year’s on-board crew will include:

  • Don Macdonald – Close friend and training partner
  • Mack McConnell – Our oldest son, captain of his high school swimming team
  • Bill von Goeben – Susan’s brother, and the world’s nicest guy who can make anything work
  • Clif Wilson – Close friend since childhood, with some extreme adventure experiences himself
  • Susan – The CEO of A Long Swim.  Without her, none of this is possible.  She makes me the luckiest guy in the world.



Fundraising has been very gratifying this year.  A Long Swim is again supporting the Les Turner ALS Foundation, and the donations have been nothing short of humbling.  There is a very prominent donation button elsewhere on this site, and we encourage you to click on it.  Otherwise, checks can be mailed to the good folks at:

A Long Swim

c/o Les Turner ALS Foundation

5550 W. Touhy Ave, Suite 302

Skokie, IL60077


The Emotional Part

After another year of training and standing on the threshhold of another world-class swimming challenge, the butterflies in my stomach make me philosophical, nervous, hopeful and grateful.  We have done what we can, and we have controlled what can be controlled.  Such a big part of a challenge like this, though, is being prepared to confront things that are unknown and uncontrollable, and to deal with them physically and mentally.  I know that this swim is 21 miles and will require about 30,000 strokes.  I know that there will be times that it will be frightening, particularly at night.  I know that, if September 27th is a day that the Channel will let someone across, I can swim that far.  I can be that guy.

Most of all, I know that, as the teammate in the Speedo, the A Long Swim team is the best team in the world to be on.  Beyond that, sometimes I feel like I don’t know too much at all.

As Nelson Mandela said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”

Fear.  Inadequacy.  Powerful beyond measure.  Darkness to light.  Now is the time to get our heads on straight, dig deep and swim far.

See you on the beach.  The sun will be bright and the air will be warm.

After all, this is California, dude.

I will report back.