Ateam of five brave swimmers from Derry and Donegal braved the cold waters of the North Channel when completing a swim to Scotland.
The five man ‘Team Suili’ comprised amateur open water swimmers Gerard Curran, George Meenan, Darren Bradley, James Jackson and Jeff Gallagher.
They took on the icy cold waters, and huge jellyfish, of the North Channel, which is considered to be one of the toughest open water swims in the world, in just over 12 and a half hours.
The amateur open water swimmers were the 20th relay team to take on the gruelling cross-channel swim, all to raise money for a number of local charities.
They were the second team of local swimmers from Derry and Donegal to take on the epic swimming challenge.
‘Team Doire’, comprised of John Coyle, Jolene Linehan-Harkin, Marc Power, Paddy Bradley and Daniel Meenan, swam the 21.6 mile route between Bangor and Portpatrick as a relay team in a time of 14 hours and 35 minutes at the start of July.
The teams were raising money for four charities: Foyle Search and Rescue, Buncrana based Lough Swilly RNLI, the red Cross and ME Support NI.
They had set themselves a fundraising target of £7,000 and have almost reached this total.
Gerard Curran said the open water swim was tough.
“We knew it was going to be cold and knew that there was going to be giant jellyfish, but they were the real hindrance.
“I only managed to swim for about five minutes without encountering them, for the next 55 minutes of my first swim during the relay, the rest of the team were having to dorect me from the boat. It was impossible to avoid the jellyfish.”
Gerad was stung on both arms, but fellow team mate George Meenan was stung from ‘head to toe!’
Each swimmer spent an hour in the water and Gerard admits he didn’t want to get back in when it came to his second turn.
“We were told that the jellyfish are closer to the surface of the water when it is dark. By the time I went in for my second turn, daylight had broken and they were deeper in the water. That second swim was brilliant.”
He said when the team got around a half hour away from land he felt a real sense of ‘relief that we had done it’.
Gerard said while the whole team were proud of themselves for completing the challenge, he doesn’t think he could do it again.
“Maybe in about 10 years time!” he joked.
“It’s a big swim, one of the toughest channels in the world and we have done it. We were the 19th and 20th relay teams to do it in the whole history of swimming and that will be a nice thing to look back on.”
To donate visit: www.mydonate.bt.com/fundraiseres/northchannelchallenge2