A Chicago Marine Unit officer is spending his time on the water to help others in more ways than one. In addition to his patrols on Lake Michigan, he’s swimming to raise money for the families of fallen officers.
Every swim is a test of strength, endurance and determination. But Officer Nial Funchion isn’t swimming for sport. He’s doing it to support his brothers in blue who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Six days a week, Funchion swims the open waters of Lake Michigan.
The 19-year veteran is preparing for his latest challenge: the 23-mile swim from the coast of Los Angeles to Catalina Island.
It’s all to raise money for the Brotherhood for the Fallen, a police charity that sends Chicago officers around the country to the funerals of officers killed in the line of duty.
“What they do and what they stand for, and the effects of that, is absolutely inspirational,” Funchion said.
Back in 1991, Funchion began his quest to complete the Triple Crown of endurance swimming. The next year, he swam the English Channel. In 2011, he completed the second leg: a swim around the island of Manhattan.
But while swimming the Straits of Gibraltar before Manhattan, Funchion wearing the yellow cap, had his most memorable moment in the water.
“Somewhere in the middle there, we acquired five killer whales, five little buddies swimming along with us,” he said.
But Funchion says his most meaningful moment came when the Brotherhood for the Fallen agreed to let him represent the charity after it started three years ago.
Brotherhood founder Officer Patrick McGrath says Funchion has raised thousands of dollars.
“It’s really giving us exposure as an organization to keep us going on our cause. Fiscally he’s helping us every step of the way, McGrath said.
Funchion will swim to Catalina on Tuesday August 13.
To donate to Brotherhood of the Fallen, go to http://www.brotherhoodforthefallen.org/