15 Aug 2018 at 08:01
A wee story for the history books
GLORY COMES FROM DARING TO BEGIN
‘The Isle of Man Channel’
Following on from the Guinness World Record at Camlough Lake in 2009 the seeds of the Isle of Man swim crossing were sown.
There were two previous valiant attempts on the Isle of Man channel by a four-person relay on 20th June 2010 and our good friends in Drogheda, Ireland who attempted the same channel in the opposite direction from Ireland to Isle of Man on the same day. There had been one successful crossing Portavogie to Peel by a 12-person team in 1979 led by renowned open water swimmer Jack McClelland.
infinity channel swimming having studied and researched the crossing had the ingredients to successfully conquer this channel with the help of Mother Nature.
A visit to Isle of Man in late May to speak with local sailing fraternity and to complete test swims at Peel and Port Erin gave Pádraig and crew further information for the swim window.
Pádraig and Jacqueline put many hours into planning the swim route and knowledge of the waterways from Nicky Donnelly was essential for the recipe for success.
The team travelled to Peel, Isle of Man for the swim window which opened 14th June hoping to swim that day however the wind and rough sea conditions would not allow a fruitful adventure.
As Milo said if you’re not fishing your mending you nets so they waited, availed of local hospitality made preparation to the boats, stocked up on supplies and swam in the beautiful waters at Douglas and Port Erin.
The team comprising of Olive Conroy IRL, Carole Laporte FRA / IOM, Anna Carin Nordin SWE, Rory Fitzgerald GB/ IRE, Conor Turner IRL and Elina Makïnen FIN all with excellent tolerance for colder waters and endurance marathon distance swimming were chosen when infinity made an offer in January 2017 for a challenge to complete the Celtic quadrant the Oa channel (Isle of Islay to Ireland) the Isle of Man channel, the North Irish channel (Ireland to Scotland) and the Dál Riata channel (Mull of Kintyre to Ireland).
The team name Triskelion represented the Celt link for all countries – three legs are reflected in the Isle of Man motto (adopted late in the symbol’s history): Quocunque Jeceris Stabit, traditionally translated from Latin as Whithersoever you throw it, it will stand, or Whichever way you throw it, it will stand. The tolerance and endurance of this team would stand the rough water, the cold, the wind, the darkness and the unknown.
On 17th June now well into the swim window waters around the island were choppy and the wind readings did not match what the forecast said. Local fishermen and yachtsman advised that the weather over the four-mile mark was usually a truer guide.
Communications for the team in channel swimming are often last minute and that is why they have a swim window – they must be ready to swim at any time. The sun was shining but the northerly winds blowing meant the water would be hitting crafts and swimmers head on as the ventured for Ireland not ideal conditions.
As the team ate queenies and topped up their tan Pádraig and crew took a trip out to the four-mile mark where they met calmer water and more pleasant swim conditions.
The team were advised swim time 1730hrs and to come to the harbour ASAP packed and ready. Game on!
Team Triskelion were ready and set sail at 1730hrs as planned. The English Channel rules for swimming were followed – Conor Turner as swimmer 1 commenced with an on shore start from Fenella beach Peel, Isle of Man on Saturday 17th June, 2017 1755hrs. With choppy water for the first four miles he and Rory Fitzgerald followed by Anna-Carin Nordin and Elina Mäkinen took rough water in their stride. Carole, gracefully and with speed brought the sun set and Olive Conroy the teams’ youngest member at 18 years the first of the night swims with not a flinch, fearless and smiling completing the first rotation.
Conor, Rory and Anna swam the hours of darkness in choppy conditions and again Carole who brought the sunset brought the sunrise with Elina and Olive enjoying a calmer sea and beautiful soft golden skies.
On board AMac Pádraig and Milo guiding and encouraging as ever and Milo with his big stick pushing when needed never faltering on their watch.
On board Melody bay Jacqueline and Nicky keeping team Triskelion in tune and focused. Triskelion comradely and stories kept spirits and energy levels high. Carole a teacher in Isle of Man told of how she was asked by her students Where are you going Miss ? What an adventure she would be able to tell them of back at school on Monday her infinity swim cap and her moon jelly fish friends and the success of her trip to Ireland.
Triskelion would swim one more full Rotation. Land visible for over 6 hours was enough to spur the team on. At 1055 Olive entered the water with blue skies sun shining and the navigation reading 1600m to landfall.
As the other swimmers sunbathed, Elina shaking and recovering from hypothermia after her third swim used the warmth of the sun to rewarm. Life was good.
Mother Nature and infinity channel swimming ‘don’t do easy’ and this landing would not be easy as then sea mist appeared and visibility reduced to 200m. The experience of both pilots and the closeness to shore would permit the swim to continue but still with distance to travel at 1155 Olives rotation was over and Conor entered the water. Like the lifting of a veil the mist cleared to revel the beautiful headland between Ardglass and Ballyholme. Adjusting his course and passing some high lying rocks Conor 8 minutes into his rotation at 12.03pm on 18.06.17 climbed onto the shoreline and raised his hands for the finish with 72 kilometres swam.
Olive re-entered the water to join her teammate to celebrate completing this pioneering swim crossing as the ‘Melody Bay’ sang a tune of cheer and elation.
A world team and a new world record with Infinity Channel Swimming in a total swim time of 18 hours 8 mins 32 seconds. An amazing success and big thanks to all the team, infinity crew, and supporters globally.
As the team return to their normal duties of daily work the memories and the history books will last forever. A historical day, as ‘TRISKELION’ the Isle of Man channel relay team complete this journey from Isle of Man to Ireland and take this marathon swim into the history books as a world first.
‘Live all your days’
Start 17.06.17 17:55 Peel Isle of Man
Finish 18.06.17 12:03 Ardglass Ireland
Pádraig Mallon Vessel AMac
Nicky Donnelly Vessel Melody Bay
Crew Milo McCourt, Jacqueline McClelland
Ratified by from Marathon Swimmers Federation