Northern Ireland news

City of Derry hope to join North Channel swimming elite

The group has been braving the cold waters of Lough Foyle in training for this weekend's challenge.
Seamus McKinney

A group of hardy Derry swimmers hope to join their sport's elite when they undertake the North Channel challenge from Northern Ireland to Scotland.

The group of ten from City of Derry Swimming Club – ranging in age from 34 to 60 - are hoping to become just the 19th and 20th teams to complete the 21.6-mile swim across some of the most challenging waters around Ireland.

Linking the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea, the North Channel challenge takes participants through some of the toughest conditions in open water swimming, according to group spokesman Gerard Curran.

Mr Curran said: “To put it into perspective, Everest has been conquered more times. There are massive jelly fish and it's very cold but the temperature has to be at least 11 degrees.”

The 11-degree condition is a health and safety measure as anything below that can put swimmers at risk of hypothermia. However, if all goes well, Mr Curran hopes the City of Derry group will be allowed to make their bid for swimming fame from Donaghadee this weekend.

“At the minute, it's 10.6 (degrees) we we're just on stand-by now, waiting for the call sometime between June 22 and June 25 when the tides and the weather are ok,” he said.

With forecasts good for the weekend, Mr Curran said the group hoped to split into two teams of five to complete the task on separate days. He expects the swim to take between 15 and 20 hours to complete. He will be joined by: George Meenan, John coyle, Paddy Bradley, Jeff Gallagher, James Jackson, Daniel Meehan, Joleen Linahan-Harkin, Marc Power and Darren Bradley.

“We've been training for the last six months but this is nothing new to us.

“We have been swimming in the Foyle for close to ten years. The year the Peace Bridge opened, we had a race from the Craigavon Bridge to Foyle Bridge. Last year we did a swim in aid of Foyle Search and Rescue when around 60 or70 people took part.”

In preparation for the North Channel Challenge, the group has just completed three weeks of heavy training in Lough Swilly. Coupled with daily swims, often early morning, all ten are ready to take on the Northern Ireland to Scotland swim.

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