Chicago-area man to swim English Channel

July 13, 2011 4:29:59 AM PDT
Since 1875, thousands have tried and hundreds have succeeded in swimming the English Channel. A Chicago area man is about to dip his toes in the water.

Doug McConnell is an investment banker who is preparing for the swim of his life at Olive Park near Navy Pier. His secret? Old fashioned hard work.

"Six mornings a week, three to five miles a day and in as cold water as you can find," McConnell said of his training. What's all it for? "The English Channel."

McConnell began competitive swimming at the age of 7. At the University of Illinois, he ranked as one of the top butterfly competitors in the country. But those were in swimming pools. Now, he's training for one of the most turbulent bodies of water in the world.

"Well, we've been working on it for a couple of years. Ah, getting used to cold water like here today. You know it's a big undertaking. It's twenty one to thirty miles of dark and cold," McConnell said.

McConnell will brave the cold and pain in late August. He's raising money for medical research for Lou Gehrig's disease,

"It's a disease that's touched my family in a couple of ways. My father passed away from ALS in 2006 after suffering with it for many years. And, ah, it's a small disease and so it doesn't, it doesn't attract much in the way of research money," McConnell said.

McConnell has $35,000 in pledges so far for ALS Research. To help out and follow McConnell's progress, check out his website,

"There is no cure. And, ah, ah this is a small way to direct some research money not only to the foundation but ultimately to the disease," McConnell said.

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