Jim McGowan of Fort Washington, Pa., after a year of training, leaves this weekend for England with his coach and a three-member support team to swim the English Channel. He is 54 and has spent three decades confined to a wheelchair. “I am really no one special, just a man who doesn’t believe it can’t be done,” he said at a farewell rally at Temple University, where he is a counselor in the Office for the Disabled. His coach, Lou Neighloss, is confident that McGowan, who was paralyzed from the mid-chest down after a spinal injury, will make it. “Jim will swim on his back, that is the best stroke for him,” he said. “I think he can make it across in 13 to 15 hours, if we get a break in the weather.” According to Temple University, two men with partial use of their legs swam the icy, 22-mile channel in the 1960s, but McGowan would be the first paraplegic to perform the feat. University President Peter Liacouras gave McGowan a Temple beach towel to use when he reaches the beach at Calais, France.
--A four-act play written by Dutch playwright-broadcaster Wim T. Schippers and featuring an all-dog cast opened in Amsterdam to an enthusiastic audience, but theater critic Jac Heijer wrote: “The actors . . . seemed not to remember their parts, despite their rather simple text.” The play, “Going to the Dogs,” was described as a Byzantine love story set in a rambling country manor. Schippers, known in the Netherlands for his bizarre television and stage productions, spent five months training the six German shepherd leads--Ilja, Boris, Helenus, Victor, Herta and Bella--who were supported by members of the Amsterdam Police Dog Brigade.
--A 43-year-old woman who recently had her 15th baby says she is calling it quits. “Enough is enough,” Mary Mikowski of New Hyde Park, N.Y., said before she left Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola with her new son, Julian. Julian, at 8 pounds, 15 ounces, joins nine brothers and five sisters at home, from the oldest, Arthur, 22, to Christine, 4. They all live in the family’s two-story house on Long Island, sharing its seven bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms. Mikowski and her husband, Arthur, agreed that they never intended to make the house quite that full. “We just love children. Both of us were only children,” said Mary Mikowski, who has been married for 24 years. Arthur Mikowski, a Suffolk County policeman who moonlights at part-time jobs to make ends meet, said baby No. 15 was a welcome addition. The thrill of having a child “never wears away,” he said. “They’re like a gift.”