Northern Ireland news

Co Armagh man to embark on epic swimming challenge across the North Channel

Gordon Hamill will take on the epic challenge of swimming across the North Channel

A CO Armagh man is to embark on a swimming challenge of epic proportions when he attempts to become just the 10th Irish person to swim the North Channel from Ireland to Scotland.

Just 52 people have completed the swim, regarded as the toughest channel swim in the world, due to the extreme cold currents and jellyfish.

But tomorrow, weather permitting, Gordon Hamill from Lurgan will take on the 35km challenge, raising money for the Southern Area Hospice with every stroke he takes.

And all this from a man new to the sport.

"I'm very new to this sort of swimming, I swam across Lough Neagh seven years ago and this brought me to the attention of some famous Irish channel swimmers who wanted to help me with my swimming technique and it sort of spiralled from there," he said.

"They told me to try the channel swim and they would help me with technique and anything I needed, so I have been training since then.

"In the build up to this I've competed in the Irish ice swimming championships where we swam 1km in water where the ice has just been broken before the swim.

"My swim has caught the imagination of the open water swimming community as it's unheard of for a swimmer so new to the sport to qualify for the north channel.

"As my attempt has gathered momentum some of the top channelists in the world have stepped in to help me as they were impressed by me having the guts to go for something which is normally the preserve of swimmers with 20 years experience."

Mr Hamill will set off from the chilly waters of Donaghadee early tomorrow morning and hopes that around 16 hours later, he will arrive in Portpatrick in Scotland.

But he said the "nerves are setting in".

"It has been estimated that by the time I get in the water in Donaghadee, I will have swam around 1,000 km this year alone in training so I am ready for this," he said.

"But that doesn't stop the nerves.

"I'm determined to raise as much money as I can, I've raised £3,000 for the Southern Area Hospice already, it's a cause close to my heart, so I'm hoping to raise much more."

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