SAA-A TMT Race Report


Well, I’m off to swim across America. Wish me luck. I’ll call when I hit the Mississippi.

On Sunday, September 21, I participated in the Swim Across America event in the Chesapeake Bay, just south of Baltimore.  Swim Across America (SAA) is dedicated to raising money and awareness for cancer research, prevention and treatment through swimming-related events. The Baltimore Chapter raises money for Johns Hopkins Medical Center. SAA has raised enough money in five years to build to an SAA cancer lab.

saa lab

 It’s nice to see where the money goes, innit?

For years, I was harassed relentlessly about swimming the event by my friend Josh Gordon. Josh is a freshman at George Mason University and is passionate about open water swimming. In June, Josh swam around Key West. Over 12 miles in 88 degree water, and he finished ninth overall.  Most college kids do their Key West swimming inside a bottle of beer. (It’s true. I did it myself.) Josh will swim the English Channel someday, and I hope like hell to be on his support boat, hurling insults at him about his horrible taste in music.


I love you dearly, Josh, but Coldplay is NOT a rock and roll band.

Josh’s dad has cancer, and receives his treatments at Johns Hopkins. So Josh is passionate about this event, too.  It took three years for the third Sunday in September to be free of conflicts (like Ironman races), but I finally made it. I’m so glad I did.

Josh, his mom Debbie, and I swam three miles in the Magothy River, which is a feeder into the Chesapeake.   The event is held at a horse farm that slopes down toward the river and overlooks the Chesapeake, as well as the sailboats and yachts that are moored there. Everything about the location was beautiful:



Oh, hello new friend.


Plenty of big fancy boats for viewing, and kayaks for in-water assistance.


 Excuse me? Is this the champagne stop?

I had to raise a little bit of money for the event, which I did. (Thanks, Team WBTU!) More importantly, I wanted to swim in honor and memory of friends and family who have battled cancer. So I decided to write their names on me, take them with me, and pray for them as I swam. Then I realized that I had more skin than names (which happens when you eat a lot of donuts), so I reached out to all of you and asked for the names of your family and friends, and….well let’s just say that Josh and Debbie had fun with the Sharpie.


  The Monahan Contingent. Too many names.


Michelle. My girl.


Julio, Patricia, DMJCK13, Jane, and my fellow Ironwoman Sylvie.


 Uncle Jack, Taylor Love, Jenn, Irene, Matt Forgie, Susan Wilson, Aunt Alice, and Mima.

wpid-wp-1412013252348.jpegCharlotte, Sandi, Uncle Michael, and Mrs. Hu.  Also, my ROOKIE tattoo, which lasted all week. I know my students thought I was a total badass.

You should know two things about my prayers while swimming last Sunday:

  1. I pretty much kept it to the Hail Mary. A bunch of reasons. I love Mary. Also, the best way to get to a man is to go through his mother. And, it’s a great football play.
  2. Trying to keep the event non-competitive was a serious challenge. An excerpt from my inner monologue, “…and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, JESUS, MARY, AND JOSEPH…I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS WOMAN IS PASSING ME AGAIN…THAT’S IT…I’M GOING TO TURN IT ON…FULL TURBO…AND SWIM RIGHT OVER HER.”

See what I mean?

I was thrilled to take your loved ones with me on a slightly brackish, completely amazing swim. I swam three 1-mile loops with them in 1 hour and 28 minutes. I would have swam another loop if they’d have let me. It was wonderful, peaceful and sad. I said a lot of Hail Marys (most of them uncorrupted) so hopefully a few of them got through to those in charge upstairs. We need inspired, creative, innovative researchers to develop new therapies. We need labs and equipment and high-tech flux capacitor-type things to test these therapies. These all require big bucks, and SAA raises big bucks. Really big bucks.

So, who’s in for next year? Team TMT. We can get donut tattoos.

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