Irish swim team Walruses Extreme have achieved a new world record for the coldest crossing of the North Channel – a famously tough swim even in the summer months – raising money for children’s cancer charity the Gavin Glynn Foundation.
Spanning 21 miles from Northern Ireland to the coast of Scotland (or vice versa), and with low water temperatures, strong competing currents and stinging jellyfish it’s no wonder the North Channel is dubbed the toughest channel to swim in the world.
The team completed the swim in 12 hours 51 minutes, entering the icy and dark water at Donaghadee to start. When leader of the team Ger Kennedy (AKA Dr. Ice) kicked off at with the first swim in the relay, the temperature read 8.4 degrees. After a gruelling team effot, the team arrived safely back to Donaghadee around 10:30pm to a crowd of roaring supporters.
Jacqueline McClelland of Infinity Channel Swimming, who was supporting on the boat, commented: “With over a million people watching the swim, every stroke needed to be a success. We knew the swimmers would be pushing their bodies to the extreme, but we also knew with good training and safety measures it was very possible. There’s not a lot of firsts in the world!”
Ger first envisioned the swim in 2018, and up against a global pandemic it’s been a long time in the making. However, the preparation was completed in just four months.
The usual season for crossing the North Channel is June To September, due to the water temperature and daylight hours. The January swim was sanctioned by the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association, and the committee set special rules and qualifying swims to ensure the swim was safe.
During the swim, the team’s vitals were monitored by a doctor every 15 minutes including their core body temperature, oxygen levels and recover rate to ensure they were safe to continue.
If you’d like to support, there is still time to donate to the Gavin Glynn Foundation. Head to the Extreme Winter Relay fundraising page.
Extreme Winter Relay North Channel Swimmers: