Derry man to take on the open seas for ARC Fitness

A Derry man is to swim between Rathmullan beach and Buncrana pier later this month to raise funds for the ‘life saving’ ARC Fitness charity.

Martin Ward and his son-in-law Shane O'Shea who will be swimming from Rathmullan to Buncrana.
Martin Ward and his son-in-law Shane O'Shea who will be swimming from Rathmullan to Buncrana.

Martin Ward, who is a member of the ARC community and has been sober for the last 16 months, has been open water swimming for years and decided to take on the challenge for the ‘brilliant organisation’.

ARC Fitness was founded by local registered mental health nurse and personal trainer Gary Rutherford in 2019 following a 15 year battle with addiction. The not-for-profit organisation exists to give individuals recovering from substance misuse disorders the opportunity to focus on improving their mental and physical wellbeing.

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This is done through physical activity, professional support and re-connection with the community.

“The work that ARC is doing is invaluable. They are saving lives and changing lives,” Martin said. “It is a brilliant organisation and every penny I can raise for them helps support their work.”

Martin worked in local council leisure facilities for over three decades and managed local swimming pools up to his retirement eight years ago.

He did his lifeguard training as a teenager, following a tragedy at a reservoir in the city in the late 1970s.

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“I was 14 when I did my lifeguard training. My father, who worked at the reservoir, encouraged me and my brother to do it after what happened,” Martin said. “I have been sea swimming since I was no age, as my father took us out when I was around four or five.

“I had never been a fan of it, I always did it for the challenge more than the love of it. Now I am into it more than ever because it is so good for your head.

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“When you hit that water, the only thing you can feel is the pain of the cold. You are just in the moment and in the here and now, it stops your head going anywhere else.”

Martin, and his son-in-law Shane O’Shea, will swim the 4.5 mile stretch of water without wetsuits.

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“I have always done open water swimming without a wet suit. I have an old school swimming background, where you must enter the water without a wet suit, go from beach to beach and are not allowed to stop in the middle or hold onto any boats.”

Martin has done the swim before and the length of time it is likely to take is dependent on a number of factors.

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“I did it before and a storm kicked off and it took me around three hours, then I did it another time and it took around an hour and a half.”

Martin and Shane will undertake the swim on August 28 and so far they have raised over £200 for ARC. To donate visit: https://gofund.me/9afa604b