And Then There Were Three

When you’re going to swim the English Channel you GO when your boat pilot says GO. Even if it means your whole team has not arrived. Mack, our oldest, was literally scheduled on the next flight from San Francisco to London. He arrived in Dover eight hours after the swim was complete. When Doug’s coach, Marcia Cleveland, warned us about the things we weren’t going to be able to control it never occured to me that this would be one of those things. Here’s what it meant …

From: Mack McConnell
To: Doug McConnell
Sent: Sun Aug 21 14:13:30 2011
Subject: Today’s the day!

You’re swimming right now. According to mom’s texts, She, Billy and Ashley have already tossed their cookies a couple of times. Being seasick sucks, but let it be at testament to the strength of your team. We’re all here for you.

I’m watching you swim, too. Except, to me, you look a lot like a blip on Google Maps. And I can’t see the waves from here, but I hear they’re pretty gnarly.

An airport is the last place I want to be watching you do this. In fact, I’d much rather be throwing up over the side of the boat on the channel. But, I’ll be there soon enough and I’m pretty excited about it.

I’m so proud of you for doing this. You wanted to do it, you said you’d do it, you brought everyone along on the journey and now you’re doing it. It’s like when Babe Ruth pointed his bat into the stands, and put the ball right where he said he’d put it.

I know you have an idea of the impact you’ve had on your team since you’ve started A Long Swim, but I have a feeling you’ll never know how much it’s particularly affected Me, Billy, Gordy and Ashley. It’s completely inspiring to watch not only what you did, but how you did it with such humility and grace. You are changing what the McConnell identity is all about; actually, you just made being a McConnell the coolest thing ever.

For us, accomplishing what we want has never been more clear. Rather than hitting the ball as hard as you can and hoping it ends up in the stands, you’ve got to point to the stands and do whatever it takes to put your ball there.

Right now, I’m learning, one Google Map blip at a time, that I can do anything I want to do. All I have to do is point my bat and know that I can.

I love you,


Not having Mack with us was a curse and a blessing. Mack is the quiet leader of the four kids. While encouraging them to keep their identities, all of our kids have different parents, after all, he sets a fine example for them and he holds their feet to the fire when he has to. We needed him to be with us on that boat.

But, because Mack wasn’t there, his brothers took on a role they may not have otherwise. Interesting. More on that later. Stay tuned.

Here’s the whole lot of them a couple of days after the swim. See the guy in the green? He’ll never be the same.

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