As every channel swimmer knows, swims don’t always go to plan. Back in July Team 210oSOUTHWEST battled the Dál Riata for nearly 13 hours before conceding defeat. Despite reaching a point less than a mile from shore the currents sweeping the swimmers past the headland were simply too strong.
But channel swimmers also know the sea will still be there another day and may, if you’re lucky and persistent, let you across at the second (or more) time of asking.
On Monday, 7 September, Team 210oSOUTHWEST Reloaded decided to try again to swim between the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland and the headlands of Northern Ireland following a route pioneered by Wayne Soutter.
It’s a shorter swim than the traditional North (Irish) Channel route, but the narrowness of the channel only means the tidal currents move faster. This, combined with the Irish seas regular charms (cold water, lions mane jellyfish and fickle weather) make this an intensely challenging swim – and one that no relay team had ever completed.
There was one change to the original line-up with Keith Garry replacing Mo McCoy and it was Keith who took on the first one-hour rotation. Striking out at 11:42 in the morning, and surrounded by watchful seals, he set the team up brilliantly with a 5.6km dash into the ocean. John McElroy was next followed by 16-year old Olive Conroy who carved through the waves with a stroke rate of 70 per minute. Adrian Poucher was the fourth and final swimmer before Keith took his second stint.
Each team member would swim twice guided by pilots Pádraig Mallon of Infinity Channel Swimming, Richard Lafferty and the crew on Aquaholics II. Then, at 7.15pm Adrain climbed onto the rocks at Cross Slieve, Cushendun Bay, and raised his hands in celebration. They had crossed in a blistering time of 7 hours 33 minutes 16 seconds.