Infinity V team had a dream and today it became a reality 7.8.15 with Infinity Channel Swimming
INFINITY V relay team Gillian McShane, Joe Belton, David Burke, Thomas O’Hagan and Noel Grimes made history today as the first five person relay across the North (Irish) Channel. They also made their finish extra special by making landfall at Portpatrick Harbour to a regalia of RNLI lifeboats and crowds who had gathered for the annual RNLI festival. The Infinity V team receiving an escort from the RNLI John Buchanan Barr boat.
Infinity V brought together by common bonds of ice swimming and Camlough lake were relative beginners in the vast open waters of The North (Irish) Channel. Both Gillian and Joe’s swim resume included participation in the Guinness world record relay swim at Camlough lake in 2009, and Gillian as team lead with Thomas and Noel had successfully completed the Ireland ice swimming 1k championships. David was no stranger to the North (Irish) Channel having had his first taste and success in the notoriously tough channel with the eleven feet relay team last season. Infinity V’s work up to the swim date was not a smooth one injury, weather challenges and some negativity faced each one but as Nuala Moore would remind them you build a mountain, you climb a mountain, each one getting over their personal challenges. The threat of Milo’s big stick would give them a smile to help them on their way.
‘Never get comfortable with the sea as it will always surprise you’ is never too far from the thoughts of any swimmer as the rough waters of other North (Irish) channel swims this season proved but on this occasion the surprise was the sweet gift of a powder blue sky that met its reflection on a flat calm blue sea.
Three boats were crossing today weaving North Channel aspirants to their destination. Brian Meharg with the first Indian swimmer to make the crossing Rohans More, Quentin Nelson with Guernsey man Adrian Sarchet and Infinity channel crossings Pádraig Mallon and Richard Lafferty with Infinity V. Three boats with a similar heading a worlds first for the North (Irish) channel and be that a first of many as this channel begins to open up its offerings of success to swimmers of all abilities. This team in particular showing that anything is possible.
David was first to swim leaving landfall at Robbie’s point just out of Donaghadee harbour Co.Down at 4.42am dressed in jazzy jammer swim shorts his favourite yellow CLWF silicone swim cap, green glow sticks to ensure his visibility at dawn and Springstein’s dream baby dream reverberating in his head. Swimming in the week of his 50th birthday his fast pace that challenged even Martin Mallon on many an early morning in Newry leisure centre would give the team a good advance at high water. Thomas O’Hagan hailing from Co. Armagh would take over from David. His happy go lucky attitude helping him hit the high seas with speed and vigour. Thomas is a member of Queens Triathlon Club and his training with Peter Williamson and the lads there gave him a winning chance at distance in the water. His recent spell in Italy swimming at altitude also helped his fitness.
Joe Belton was next in the water. A fireman from Co. Down Joe was tasked with the turning tide. A brief of fast swimming as if heading for a 999 call was issued to the acting watch commander resulting in his three swims all executed excellently one swim for each of his children.
Taking over from Joe was Noel Grimes, a Co. Louth man with a triathlon background. Noel’s quiet and proficient demeanour showed in his swimming, getting the job done dancing one stroke at a time towards Portpatrick lighthouse. The blue of the sky meeting the blue of the water the only thing breaking its clearness were the smacks of jellyfish and the regular appearance of Porpoise and Dolphins. Noel would take the 13th swim slot and the bright lilac painted Waterfront Hotel in Portpatrick was his guide. Noel having never been to Scotland would arrive in style today swimming into the harbour to a rapturous applause of crowds gathered for the annual RNLI celebrations.
The fifth of the rotation would be Gillian ever gallant and not afraid to take on a challenge. Her blue step out of the ordinary envelope changing her life achieving an Ice K and an ice mile in the 2015 Ireland ice swimming championships. Negativity is not in her vocabulary and the support of her friends and workmates gave her a smile to light any darkness. Pádraig was not afraid to push her limits knowing she had plenty to give – ‘you are going to have to swim for all you are worth because this is a tough part of the tide’ he said as she got greased up for her second swim. Gillian played a poignant role getting two of the tougher tidal flows but showing no remorse to the jellyfish and resistant water. Onwards she swam as the first rotation became the second and the third. Each team member recovered quickly from mild hypothermia and jellyfish stings and each relay rotation was correctly executed and observed by Iryna.
With the original heading as the Portpatrick lighthouse it was exciting news to be told that they would finish in the harbour and a pint of the black stuff to celebrate Scottish soil. To land at Portpatrick harbour is a feat enjoyed by only a few North (Irish) Channel swimmers this team having this glory. Congratulations to Infinity V with a crossing time of 13 hours 15 minutes and 2 seconds.
On board on the boats return all crew and swimmers had a special bond – a North Channel medal including that held ILDSA North channel official observer Iryna Kennedy. The exceptions, David and Pádraig as they hold two.
Swim start 04.42 am 07.08.15
Swim finish: 17.57pm 07.08.15
Time: 13h 15mins 2 seconds