Swimming for a Cause: How One Man from Virginia is using Zygo for Incredible Swimming Challenges
Luke Kennedy, a 42-year-old husband, father of two, full-time flight instructor, and firefighter from Roanoke Oak, Virginia, has not only made waves in his career but also in the world of swimming. His journey, marked by a commitment to physical and mental endurance, has been closely connected with Zygo.
Discovering Zygo: A Lifeline for Connectivity
For Luke, swimming has always been a passion since he was just four years old. However, his demanding career as a flight instructor, often involving seaplane training, made it challenging to find time for his favorite activity. The breakthrough came when he discovered Zygo.
Luke's work often keeps him near or on water bodies, making it essential to stay in touch. Despite using other underwater headphones in the past, it was Zygo's walkie-talkie capability, along with its music streaming feature that was a game-changer for Luke.
“When I was stationed in California, we had a lot of downtime where we had to be on the plane, but we couldn’t really leave the plane, so swimming was out of the question,” he explained. “But once I discovered Zygo, I was hooked. I could leave the transmitter on the base and swim using a bungee to mimic distance swimming. When we got a call, my copilot could call me back in.”
As part of his job, Luke also travels extensively, spending many nights in hotels across the United States. Now, with the help of Zygo, he can stay connected while getting in some laps of the hotel pool without missing any critical updates, whether it’s weather or other information from his copilot or calls from his wife. “I’m in that pool unless they need me to leave it,” he says.
With Zygo, Luke swam a total of 287 hours in 2022, covering approximately 2 miles each day. He is set to meet or exceed that number in 2023.
Swim for Kabul Victims
Luke’s love of swimming has inspired him to use it to generate awareness for causes close to his heart. In August, he decided to swim 13 miles in honor of the 13 members of the United States Military who were tragically killed in the Kabul suicide bombing in 2021. His goal was to raise awareness and support for the Hunter Lopez Foundation, led by the mother of one of the fallen Marines. To achieve this challenging feat, Zygo played a crucial role.
But Luke encountered a problem: a 13-mile swim would take many hours, outlasting the Zygo battery several times over.
“I reached out to Zygo and explained what I was doing, and they instantly offered to loan me another device to complete my challenge. I was thrilled.”
During the swim, Zygo's reliable audio kept Luke engaged and motivated. “I listen to a real mix of music – everything from 80s rock to 90s rap to classical. It keeps me entertained because my brain can’t anticipate what’s coming next!”
Ben Winner, a commercial airline pilot and dedicated friend, provided essential support for Luke’s challenge, offering water and protein shakes throughout the swim. He was also able to communicate with Luke while underwater to help him adjust his direction in the lake without Luke needing to stop.
“Ben arranged his schedule so that he could help me out,” said Luke. “He flew to Roanoke, drove to the lake in his uniform, supported my swim and then flew straight back out. He also acted as my cameraman documenting each mile of the swim on Instagram, sharing the stories of all 13 victims. He’s a good friend.”
Luke completed his incredible 13-mile swim in 7 hours and 30 minutes and all money raised went to the Hunter Lopez Foundation to support those who protect and serve the United States.
Uniting for 9/11 and Beyond: Inspiring Messages Through Swimming
On the anniversary of 9/11, Luke embarked on a symbolic swim, completing 110 laps to remind people of the unity that prevailed during that critical time. He used Zygo once again to keep his motivation high.
“I wanted to remind people that we stood united after 9/11,” he said. “Nothing stood between anyone at that time. No one cared who you were or what your beliefs were. We just came together. I wanted to inspire people to remember how Americans could be. United We Stand was the message then and that is what I swam for.”
In his ongoing journey, Luke is also set to tackle the Alcatraz swim, a fundraiser for the non-profit organization Mission: Safe Harbour. This organization trains law enforcement agencies to identify and combat sex and human trafficking. Zygo remains an important part of his journey, allowing him to stay connected and motivated during his training.
Zygo: The Anchor of Luke's Swimming Challenges
While music keeps Luke engaged on his longer swims, he says Zygo is much more than just entertainment.
“When I’m training in open water, whoever comes with me uses Zygo to navigate me,” he says. “Whoever is with me can guide me through Zygo so I stay safe and on course, but I don’t lose momentum. I also need to be listening to certain calls for work but I don’t need to have any input in them so I can use Zygo to listen to these calls while swimming. The audio quality is truly the best you can get but the ability for a third party to speak to me without having to use a cellphone is incredible. It’s not just entertainment but for safety too,” he says.
Luke also adds that the intuitive, easy setup makes using Zygo a breeze. “Out of the box, it just works,” he says.
“I just want to say thank you to Zygo,” said Luke. “It has been the anchor for my training and fundraising. One time, I had the Zygo transmitter on the wing of my plane while swimming in open water and it fell off. I found the unit, but the plastic was gone. I emailed the company and explained what happened and they shipped me the part the very next day – their service has been impeccable. They've just been amazing. It's easy to stay loyal when they do everything so well.
"Zygo is not just a headset; it's a lifeline for my swimming challenges,” he adds. “Without it, I couldn't push my limits and achieve what I have so far. It keeps me connected, motivated, and safe during my swimming.”