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Swimming the English Channel for ALS Research

by Matthew Norman

Did you hear about this thing? This inspiring athletic event going on in England?

No, not that one. this one.

Six women -- career women and/or moms all, and none of them pro athletes (but all of them super tough) -- are swimming a two-way crossing of the English Channel as part of an effort to raise donations for ALS research. And there's a chance they could even set a women's relay team record.

As if that's not a dramatic enough endeavor, team leader Amanda Mercer was diagnosed with breast cancer this March. The last four months of her training were hampered by three rounds of aggressive chemotherapy. But the team is nonetheless on the Channel this week for a probable crossing attempt today, conditions permitting. See what I mean about tough?

I have a special interest in this awesome story: One of the women on the relay team is my cousin. (Go, Jenny!) But even with no family ties, after you watch this video, I bet you'll have a special interest in it too.

Life Cycles from Bob Berg on Vimeo.

You can donate to the fundraising effort at the Channel for ALS site. (Donations do not go toward the team's travel costs.) They've raised $68,000 so far! And it doesn't cost anything to be thinking of these six ladies today, or this weekend, or whenever the conditions are right for their swim.

It's a big deal. They'll be contending with the cold, the current, the waves -- even jellyfish, for crying out loud. (Jenny's son also wanted to be sure she was appropriately concerned about unexploded mines from World War II). But if ever a group of athletes embodied that "strength and determination" thing the big-league play-by-play announcers are always going on about, it's gotta be these six women. Go for it, team!

Six Michigan women to swim English Channel to fight ALS (

Swimmers Take On English Channel for a Cause (ESPNW)

Cancer survivor channeling her pain to set world record (Detroit Free Press)