Why This Swim
Updated: Feb 17
“Why” is a question I’ve been getting a lot as I’ve slowly started to tell people what I’m trying to do. "Why not something shorter?" "Why that distance?" "Why that route?" "Just…why???" So here it goes.
In July 2012, I swam the English Channel also for the Chicago Diabetes Project (CDP) in honor of my Uncle Wally. The year prior to the swim, I was living in Lille, France. When I left for France, my uncle’s health was declining, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to see him again when I returned home. I wanted to do something for him and my family while I was away to let them know I was thinking of them. As a swimmer about to live pretty close to the French side of the Channel, swimming the English Channel for type 1 diabetes research was the obvious choice, right? Well, maybe only to me.
Since 2012 (unrelated to swimming), I’ve had some health complications that have kept me from swimming. During those years, doing another swim for the CDP, and swimming Lake Michigan specifically, was on my mind. As the years passed, the idea remained. So finally, in the fall of 2019, when I was able to handle swimming again, my brain re-ignited. Lake Michigan was no longer an idea on the backburner. It was an actual possibility.
So why that distance?
It was always going to be Lake Michigan. It’s my favorite body of water in the world. After that, it was just about putting two and two together:
My uncle is originally from Chicago.
My aunt spent her summers in Grand Haven.
Obvious, right? I can’t really explain it. When I saw it was 108 miles between Chicago and Grand Haven, I considered other end points. But in the end, I couldn’t shake Grand Haven.
This is the easiest question for me because this effort is centered around an extraordinary group of people and finding a cure.
It’s for my Uncle Wally; for my family; for everyone living with type 1 diabetes; for all of the caregivers of type 1 diabetics; for the parents waking up in the middle of the night to check blood sugar levels; for the spouses, siblings, parents, and caregivers staying up all night because of a scare; for the researchers working tirelessly; for the type 1 diabetics not sure about tomorrow or the next minute, but doing what they do best: KEEP GOING.
Given their circumstances, nothing could be more obvious to me.