Suburban Man's Incredible Swimming Feats Raise Money for ALS Research

McConnell has swam the English Channel and around the island of Manhattan

A suburban man is safe and healthy after being pulled from Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts this week during a charity swim.

Doug McConnell was attempting a swim that has never been completed, embarking on an 18-mile journey from Nantucket to Martha’s Vineyard. He was less than three-tenths of a mile from shore when he had to stop the journey because of strong rip currents, but he still managed to raise nearly $100,000 for ALS research.

“It turned into something like a washing machine,” he said.

Stroke by stroke, the Barrington-native battled 4-foot waves, sharks, and volleyball-sized jellyfish during his perilous journey.

“It was like jellyfish soup. You could just see them everywhere,” he said.

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McConnell said that he was stung numerous times in the face, but was able to avoid allergic reactions by taking medication. He also was able to avoid an encounter with a shark despite numerous sightings during his trip.

“There’s no way to sugarcoat it: there’s been a lot of shark activity in Cape Cod,” he said.

With two kayaks and two motorboats following along, McConnell was able to take breaks every 30 minutes, but in spite of the preparation and the safety precautions, he was stopped with less than a half-mile to go when strong rip currents roared to life.

McConnell embarked on the journey to help raise money for ALS research. The disease, which claimed the lives of his father and sister, is personal to him, and his non-profit “A Long Swim” foundation has seen him take on various challenges, including swimming the English Channel and swimming around the entire island of Manhattan.

“With swimming, you have to use all your muscles all the time, so it’s a perfect way to defy this dreadful disease,” he said.

The money he’s raised will go to Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and he’s expecting to raise $700,000 with his latest attempt at an incredible swimming feat.

“The cure is out there, and by golly we’re going to find it,” he said.

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