Derry man conquers New York in 28.5 mile swim

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When Derry swimmer George Meenan sets himself challenges, he doesn’t do them by halves.

With the city celebrating all things nautical this week with the arrival of Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, George has just returned from New York where he completed a marathon 28.5 mile swim around Manhattan Island.

The Derry City Council employee completed the gruelling swim in an impressive time of eight hours and 39 minutes on Saturday, June 23.

Only 38 swimmers from around the world took part in the event - the fifth longest open water swim in the world - through the none too pristine waters of the Hudson River, a feat that George described as a real test of his endurance. “I did have a brilliant time, but I must say I’m glad it’s over now,” he admitted. “You never really get comfortable doing these events, but you know what to expect and so you know how to get through it. Each one brings its own set of unique challenges - for example this time it was the heat, and ironically the risk of dehydration. You have to keep re-fuelling as you swim, and there’s a support boat that supplies each swimmer with energy drinks every half hour.”

And George has a number of impressive swimming challenges already under his belt.

“This is my fourth big swim, I also did Lake Zurich in Switzerland which was 26.5 km in fresh water – certainly fresher than the Hudson anyway. I also did the English Channel Relay last year for charity, but this event was a personal challenge - one on the bucket list you could say. So I’m delighted to have crossed it off the list. I’ll just be doing a few 10k races around Ireland over the rest of the summer now, nothing too adventurous - that was the big one.”

Congratulating George on his achievement, the city’s Mayor, Councillor Kevin Campbell, said that he was an inspiration. “It really is an amazing personal achievement to complete such a feat of physical endurance, and George is a great inspiration to anyone thinking of taking on any sporting challenge.

“As we welcome home our Clipper crew this weekend, and in the wake of the Olympic Torch celebrations, it’s a great time to recognise and celebrate the achievements of some of Derry’s remarkable and inspirational individuals, who continue to do the city proud.”