Courtesy of OptimusSport Distance Swim Challenge, Santa Monica Beach, California.

Marcellus Wiley, a retired NFL defensive end and Pro Bowl football star nicknamed DatDude, currently co-hosts the SportsNation television program on ESPN and a sports talk radio show on ESPN Los Angeles.

While he was an excellent athlete in football, he never learned to swim growing up in Southern California.

One day, I get a call from Alan Morelli who asked me to meet Marcellus at the pool at UCLA,” recalled Steven Munatones. “Frankly, I did not know who Marcellus was except that he was a pro football player.

When I arrived at the pool, it was very clear who Marcellus was. He was huge – his smile was wide and his personality was so charismatic. He really wanted to learn how to swim and he had set a goal for himself to swim a mile around Santa Monica Pier. But when I first saw him thrashing around in the water, he was really going nowhere except displacing a whole lot of water. Frankly, I was sure that reality would get in the way of his goal.”

But the same dedication that took him from streets of Southern California to the hall of Columbia University in New York City and later to the NFL drove him to quickly pick up swimming. “He is a spectacular athlete and he was able to learn how to best utilize his tactile feel and spatial awareness for good body positioning and breathing faster than anyone who I have seen. His comfort level in the water skyrocketed once he learned the basic of pulling, kicking and breathing – as well as dealing with the surf and dynamic conditions of the Pacific Ocean.”

The short program above show how Wiley, conquered his initial fears of the open water.

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