The "A2A3 Relay Team" is the brainchild of local attorney Amanda Mercer, a board member of Ann Arbor Active Against ALS. Local residents Kristin McGuire and Dave Lowenschuss founded the charity after their friend Bob Schoeni, a U-M economics and public policy prof, was diagnosed in 2008 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease). The relay team aims to raise $120,000 to support research on the disease, for which there is currently no cure.
Mercer's energy and ideas have been driving the team's rigorous training schedule for more than a year. "The goal is four days a week in the water, three weight workouts a week, and one additional cardio--usually the elliptical at the Y," she explains. The women have been training at various Ann Arbor swimming holes, including the U-M's Canham Natatorium, the city's Mack Pool, the Y, and, last summer, the Huron Valley Swim Club and the Fuller Pool.
These are serious swimmers. Three team members--Mercer, Bethany Williston, and Jenny Sutton Jalet--are full-time moms. All three also were varsity swimmers in college (at MSU, Yale, and the U-M, respectively). So were athletic trainer Susan Butcher (EMU) and resident surgeon Emily Kreger (also Yale). Teacher-in-training Melissa Karjala competed for the U-M in water polo before getting her master's from EMU.