At 7:59 this morning, Doug McConnell set off from Nantucket to Martha’s Vineyard. He didn’t go by ferry or plane or even kayak. He walked into the water at Eel Point and started swimming.

Ten hours later, at around 6 p.m. this evening, he hopes to reach Martha’s Vineyard, emerging victorious at Lighthouse Beach in Edgartown, completing a quest that began two years ago, when in August of 2019 he tried to become the first person to complete the swim in this direction. (Deb Taylor Blair and James Pittar have successfully gone the other way).

In 2019, he came within sight of land but the currents were too strong to finish the swim.

On Monday morning, according to his wife Susan McConnell, conditions were perfect.

“Water temperature, 73.29; air temperature 74; wind direction, SSW,” she texted from somewhere just off Nantucket as her husband got underway with three butterfly strokes and then switched to the front crawl for the rest of the journey. Mr. McConnell swam the butterfly in high school and college and the first three strokes of every long swim are an homage to his former teammates and competitors.

The family has been stationed on the Vineyard for the past few days, getting ready for the swim. “His training meal last night was Chilmark Store pizza,” Mrs McConnell said. “He took a pass on the family meal of lobsters and little necks from Larsen’s.”

At 4 a.m. he woke up and soon after, the family set off from the Vineyard to Nantucket to start the swim.

To pass the time Mr. McConnell counts each stroke. At 1,900 strokes all was well Mrs. McConnell reported. He had been stung about 15 times by jellyfish, she added, but that was far less than during his August swim when the waters were warmer and filled with Lion’s Mane jellyfish the size of garbage can lids.

In addition to his wife, Mr. McConnell has a local team on the water that includes Deb Blair, Dana Gaines, Eamonn Solway and Spa Tharpe. Mr. Gaines guides the swimmer by kayak while the rest of crew flanks him in a larger boat.

By English Chanel long distance swimming rules, which Mr. McConnell follows, he wears no wet suit or anything else that might make the swim easier or more buoyant. He wears only a Speedo, swim cap and goggles and can’t touch a boat or human during the swim.

In the last decade, Mr. McConnell has completed numerous long-distance swims including the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, the Molokai Channel, a swim around Manhattan. Each swim is a fundraiser for ALS, a disease that claimed the lives of his father and his sister. Every cent raised goes to the ALS research center at Northwestern University; to date his swims have raised over $1 million.

Upon arrival in Edgartown this evening a landing party will be on hand at Lighthouse Beach, a reception will follow at the Harbor View Hotel. All are invited.

To learn more about Doug McConnell, his long swims and to donate to ALS research, visit