No one has ever completed the swim from Nantucket to Martha’s Vineyard. Like other long distance open water swims, it carries with it a long list of possible disasters: cold temperatures, changeable currents, uncertain weather, jellyfish and sharks can all derail the swim.

The 18-mile swim, if completed, would likely take a minimum of nine hours, burning 1,200 calories each hour.

One man has attempted the swim three times, going back to 2019 but coming up short each time. On July 16, Doug McConnell returns, this time with a team of eight Island swimmers, hoping a team effort results in victory.

The swim, as always, is a benefit for ALS research.

In 2019, it was riptides and jelly fish, in 2021 the ocean won again, and in 2022, the last time Mr. McConnell attempted the swim, he was overcome by extreme fatigue.

Swimmers: Noah Froh, Rainy Goodale, Doug McConnell and Josh Thomson. — Hailey McLaughlin

Afterwards at the hospital he was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. Realizing he would never be able to complete the Nantucket to Martha’s Vineyard swim solo, Mr. McConnell turned to fellow open water swimmers across the Island to help him complete the challenge. This year's swim team consists of Doug McConnell, Bruce McConnell, Josh Thomson, Greg Mone, Rainy Goodale, Greg Mason, Noah Froh and Jonathan Chatinover. Helping out in the accompaning boats are Spa Tharpe, Paul Caval and Eamonn Solway.

Mr. Thomson and Ms. Goodale both swam competitively as students.

“We were college swimmers, high school swimmers,” Mr. Thomson said. “Because we live on the Vineyard we’ve come to love open-water swimming.”

Despite an 0-3 record here, Mr. McConnell is no stranger to success in open-water swimming, having completed many of the world’s most challenging ones, including the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, the Molokai Channel, the length of Tampa Bay and around Manhattan, to name just a few.

“Getting into open waters reintroduces all of the variables that the pool takes away,” Mr. McConnell said. “[A pool] has lines on the bottom so you know where you’re going. It has lane lines that eliminate waves. It’s a completely controlled environment, there’s no wind and so forth.”

“And then you get into the whole what-can-bite-you kinds of stuff,” he added.

Deb Taylor Blair and James Pittar have successfully swam from the Vineyard to Nantucket, but the opposite way poses a unique set of challenges, Mr. McConnell said.

“Normally, when you plan a swim like that, you just call up the last guy

who did it, and he’ll tell you everything you need to know. Problem is, nobody’s done it,” Mr. McConnell said. “So you have to build the book as you go.”

Mr. McConnell’s zeal and experience have inspired his fellow swimmers.

“I think it’s safe to say that if Doug weren’t here, we wouldn’t attempt this,” Mr. Thomson said. “He has the experience and the confidence, and he knows what support team you need.”

Next Tuesday, swimmers will swap out every hour, with two swimmers in the water at any given time. That gives each swimmer at least two one-hour legs of the swim, with a few hours to recover in between.

The swim will raise money for A Long Swim, a charity started by Mr. McConnell to benefit ALS research. Having hosted swims on the Island and in his native Chicago, Mr. McConnell has helped raise millions of dollars for his charity. The research is personal for Mr. McConnell, who lost his father and a sister to ALS.

“The nature of open water swimming, which requires so much endurance and resilience and so forth, is kind of the perfect counterbalance to ALS, where a person loses their ability to use their muscles at all,” Mr. McConnell said. “It’s caught on pretty well. It’s been very gratifying as you would imagine.”

For many of Mr. McConnell’s fellow swimmers, next Tuesday’s race will be their first benefit swim.

Noah Froh, one of the younger swimmers who will participate in Tuesday’s relay, said that the charity benefit will help push him through the challenges of the swim.

“It’s important to have something to swim for something to be thinking about while you’re swimming,” Mr. Froh said.

But even the knowledge that the swim will benefit a good cause can’t fully quiet the nerves.

Mr. Thomson said his main worry is the “friends in gray jackets,” a rather benign reference to potential great white sharks in the area.

Mr. Froh’s fears are much smaller.

“I worry more about the jellyfish than the sharks,” he said.