HUNGRY EYES SEE FAR
A new start to the open water swimming history books and in the history of marathon swimming commences as the 210•SOUTHWEST relay team complete the Dál Riata channel crossing.
This swim was first pioneered by Wayne Soutter and is challenging stretch of water between Mull of Kintyre, Scotland and the headlands of Northern Ireland. Tough tidal flows mean that landfall could be within a long radius between Cushendall, Cushendun and Torr Head.
The hungry look in the eyes of these four swimmers as they each prepared to undertake the challenge was immense. North (Irish) channel waters are unpredictable, cold with tough eddy currents to navigate and the ever-present lion’s mane jellyfish.
TEAM 210•Southwest started at 11.42 am with Keith Garry as the first to swim. With a previous English channel solo success in his repertoire speed over time was his goal. With large seals surrounding him there was no doubt even their swim speed was tasked to keep up as in Keith’s first hour he covered 5.6 kilometres taking the team well out into the channel.
Next to swim was John McElroy with precious North Channel relay swim knowledge and many hours of swim training and acclimatisation he attacked the high waves and rough water.
Sixteen-year-old amazingly talented open water swimmer and ice swimmer Olive Conroy was next to weave her magic and like a mermaid she makes no master of the tough tide gracefully advancing through some cold waters at top speed hitting 70 strokes per minute giving this team all the more urge to set their eyes on the prize of landfall at Cushendun in record time.
Adrian Poucher was the fourth swimmer of this record-setting relay team. Again his knowledge of the North (Irish) channel as a member of the eleven feet relay team held good stead for this swim. His powerful swim stroke taking no mercy to the many jellyfish encountered.
Each team member would swim twice guided by pilots Pádraig Mallon, Richard Lafferty and crew on Aquaholics II and at 7.15pm Adrain Poucher climbed onto the rocks raising his hands in celebration of a first-ever successful relay crossing of the Dál Riata channel reaching landfall at Cross Slieve, Cushendun Bay in an amazing time of 7 hours 33 minutes 16 seconds.
Olive Conroy, Keith Garry, Adrian Poucher and John McElroy swam as fast as the wind to take this one home. Congratulations to them on this pioneering relay success.
It is with this team, Mo McCoy and Wayne Soutter whose wealth of knowledge about this body of water can now be an aspiration and achievement for many solo and relay teams for years to come.