Saturday 31 October 2009

Swim Statistics

Today I did something that I know you're not supposed to do and everyone will think you're so full of yourself if you do; I Googled my own name... Gasp! However, I actually found out some good information I didn't know before, and it's the answers to a few questions that different people have been asking me and I couldn't honestly answer.

Qusetion 1: "How many people have swum the Channel?" Answer: To date there have been 1,499 succesful SOLO crossings of the English Channel, by 1,081 people. I don't have a figure for the total of succesful realy crossings, yet. Niall O'Crualaioch from Cork completed the 1,000th crossing. Ther have been 6 deaths on Channel swims.

Question 2: This is one that some of the younger members of Fermoy Swimming Club have been asking; "Were you one of the fastest to do it?" Answer: I swam it in a time of 10hrs 19mins. The record is 6hrs 57mins held by Petar Stoychev of Bulgaria. Many wsims take well over 24hrs. I have the 203rd fastest time, along with one other. That puts me in the top 13.5% in terms of speed. I also have the fastest time of anyone from the Republic of Ireland. This year threr were 75 succesful solo crossings and mine was the 5th fastest, that in the top 7%.

Question 3: "Are you the youngest person to have done it?" Answer: The straight answer is "No". However, since we started we had suspected that I would be the youngest Irish person, and I can now confirm that that is correct. In the past people under the age of 16 were allowed to swim but that has since been stopped as a child protection issue. So now you must be at least 16 to attempt the swim.

Question 4: This is another one kids often ask me, I suspect adults are too embarassed to ask; "How do you go to the toilet?" Answer: Any suggestions for an appropriate answer?

All of this and loads more, including photos can be found on This is an excellent source for all sorts of information about past Channel swims. Don't forget taht you can still sponsor me online at So far we have over €13,000. That is a great result, but can we make it €15,000? Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me so far..!

Sunday 4 October 2009

Channel Swim 21st September 2009

My apoligies again about the long delay with writing about the swim, everything has just been so hectic with school and all the rest! So that I don't start rambling and you end up reading a load of rubbish, I'm going to write the whole thing in five clear paragraphs; the lead up, the start of the swim, the middle, the end, and the afters! By the way, there won't be very many pictures on this post, so if you would like to see more click here.

We arrived in Dover all excited on Wednesday 9th September, thinking that it wouldn't be very long before the swim. However, day by day, the swim kept getting put off. Our original plan was to head home the following Wednesday, but by then there was still no sign of a swim so we had to start making plans for an extended stay. As you can imagine, the whole experience was very demoralising! It was very windy all week, which prevented any swims, but otherwise the weather was very nice. It wasn't until the following Friday that things were starting to look better. On Saturday 19th, we cheered Lisa off on her 2-way swim. The weather looked like it was still improving, so now all I had to do was wait for Lisa to finish (as we were both booked with the same pilot) and then it would be my turn. Really, that was all I had to do, and just hope that the weather held out...

Sunday evening, Lisa was on her way back to England, still going strong. The forecast for the following morning was excellent, if Lisa got back in time I would go at midnight and hit everything perfectly. It was a very tense few hours in the caravan park, and I definitely did not get the rest I should have. At 10:10pm Lisa finished her amazing swim at Dungeness. I got a call from Lance, our pilot, to be at the marina at 12:30pm to turn around as soon as possible to hit the tide. We met Lisa arriving back at the harbour and off we went at 1am. The journey out to the start on the boat was tough. I was never so nervous before. At 1:41am I entered the water at Samphire Hoe. It was a spring tide and I had missed the start so it was going to be very hard to hit the tide turning at the right time. The water felt warm, after about a half an hour I started to get into my rythm, and conditions were excellent. After 1hr, the crew gave me my first feed and my own Channel Swim was well under way.

As the swim progressed, everything looked perfect, the surface was flat calm, I was swimming well, feeling good, and the feeds were going down quickly and staying down. After about 4hrs it was just getting light when we were all brought to our senses by the loudest thing I've ever heard. An oil tanker was steaming down the South-West Shipping Lane right towards us giving loud blasts on its horn. Lance radioed it to change course, they said no, Lance called the Dover Coastguard and blew the whistle, the taker, still blasting the horn, went into reverse and began rotating anti-clockwise and coming towards us sideways. When it had turned enough it went into gear and passed between 100m and 150m infront of us. That was a very scary experience, luckily we survived only to be thrown all over the place by the turbulence caused. It turned out afterwards that the Coastguard had requested it to reduce speed further up the North Sea so that it would pass behind us, but it didn't want to hear it. Over the course of the next hour the Sun was rising and everyone's spirits wer lifted. When we were in full daylight I had a slightly extended feed stop to change over to dark goggles and fix all my gear. Now the we could see real progress being made.

At the 8hr mark Ned told me that if I picked up the pace I could make France in less than two hours, and then he kept repeating the words "sub-10hrs, I know you've been dreamin' about it, sub-10"... About a half an hour later during a feed, he told me that there was a buoy infront of us and that if we were able to get inside it as the tide pushed us West, then I could hit Cap-Gris-Nez, the ideal finish for Channel Swims. I kept sprinting, and believe me I was sprinting and we got inside the buoy. I needed to keep up the pace that I had been doing in order to make the Cap. With 3km to go the tide was slack and it looked like it was going to stay like that for an hour so I would have an easy swim into shore. That of course, wasn't to be! 30mins later the tide started to push me North and I had to really dig deep if I was going to make it. I kept swimming faster and faster, not realisinb the power of the tidal stream. Then Lance said something to me at the last feed, "You've got 800m to go but the tide is pushing you North past the Cap, anything you've got left in your tank, now'd be a good time to use it!" With that I sprinted like hell, right across a 2.5knot current and hit France at exactly 12noon after 10hrs 19mins in the water, 2hrs 40mins of which was at full pace! i eventually clambered over the rocks and cleared the water. Ned then got in and swam in to meet me and ended up 50m North after less than 50m swimming. It was impossible to believe that I was really there. The feeling can only be described as surreal...

After enjoying the view in France and picking up my stone, I swam back to the boat and climbed up the ladder onto the deck. What an amazing feeling! After more than ten and a half hours I was back on the boat with the people who kept the whole show running since 11:30pm the night before... We [sort of] "motored" back to England. I say motored, it took nearly 4hrs! Everyone was falling asleep on the way back. We were all completely exhausted. Everything was such a rush when we arrived back. We met Dad, David (from the caravan park), Sylvain and Dan at the marina. Said our goodbyes to Lance, Chris and Irene and went back up to the caravan park where the French and Irish tri-colours were flying side-by-side. I had a quick shower and then we headed down to the Royal Oak, our local pub for the two weeks, and we attempted to eat solid foods. You'll just have to trust me that your mouth is not suited to anything more than a banana after a Channel swim!

We hardly got a night's sleep because we had to leave for home at 6am the next morning. Just passed London I was woken up to make my first radio interiew after swimming the Channel. It was KC and Lennie from Cork's RedFM. Luckily my wit was sharp enough for them I think... It's a sort of a comedy breakfast show! On the ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare, I was able to catch up on all my e-mails. Arriving back into Ireland was another great feeling... Only a few days before I thought I would be returning empty handed. I was in for the shock of my life as we pulled into our driveway at home. There wer lots of banners and balloons up around the place and All of my familly, including my Grandad, aunt and lots of cousins, were all there, plus a freelance photographer who took loads of lovely pictures which can be seen at for 22nd Sept. Then we wer rushed down to the Grand Hotel in Fermoy. I knew something was up when we were told to go through the main entrance. When we went in there were loads of friends and familly, swiimming club and school friends all cheering and clapping... We had a really great night.

That's it for the moment but this account is to be continued as that was by no means the end of the celebrations! Keep an eye out...

Thursday 24 September 2009

10hrs 19mins later........

At last, it's done, on Monday 21st September 2009 at 1:41am, I left England in the dark of night, and at exactly 12noon, I clambered up the rocks at Cap-Gris-Nez, France. It's slowly but surely sinking in the I actually swam the English Channel! Oops...... sorry Sylvain, la Manche! It was a very tough two weeks at Varne Ridge, waiting to hera that the weather was improving, but it was worth every second in the end!

I'm sorry I can't write anything at the moment but by next week I will have the full stroy up for everyone to read!

Sunday 20 September 2009

IT'S SHOW TIME...............

Finally there is a break in the weather. Lisa from Blackrock started her 2-way at 10:35am yesterday and is now well over half way back to England. Sylvain from Alsace/Cork started his swim at around 11am today and I am scheduled to go TONIGHT at around midnight. We are now 99.9% sure that this is it, for real!

There are plenty of ways of keeping up with the swim. You can call (or text) the boat on +353 87 2278242, this is my number but Dave will answer. You can keep an eye on my Twitter page where there will be very regular updates. By going to and clicking on Sea Satin, you can track the boats progress across the Channel. It's amazing the technology involved in Channel swimming now... You can leave comments on facebook, twitter or by text if you want.

Don't forget that all this is in aid of the Irish Cancer Society and you can sponsor me at Thank You...!

Monday 14 September 2009

The story so far...

Just a very brief update to get you up to speed with the latest developments.

I am now sitting in Varne Ridge Holiday Park (which I would very highly recommend) waiting for this wind to die down. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon and there was a stiff North Easterly wind blowing which was making the sea rough with lots of white horses. Its is still the same today and will be until at least Thursday.

Wednesday is the last official day of my tides but I will retain my 2nd Preference booking with the pilot until the 23rd when the next tides begin. This gives me a better chance of swimming but it means I could be swimming on a spring tide which makes the swim more difficult, but at least I can get in the water at some stage.

That's really all I can say for now. Keep an eye on the Twitter page for more frequent updates. Also, don't forget to keep those donations rolling in!

More later,

Saturday 5 September 2009

It's finally September!

Hi Everyone,

I'd like to start off by just saying thanks to all the great people who have helped me reach this point. Most of all, Riordan's SuperValu Fermoy, who were very generous in their sponsorship of this swim... And also, Fermoy Leisure Centre who kept me going through the winter, Fermoy Swimming Club who I just can't thank enough for the last 10yrs, Dave Pyne for all the help with physio all this year, and Cara Partners, my Dad's employers, who were also very generous in supporting the event. And of course all the individuals who donated towrds the Irish Cancer Society so far! You can still donate here: So far we have raised over €5,500 I would love to make it €7,500 before I walk on French soil, so lets keep donating and I know we'll get there...!

The last week has been so different from the entire year I have put behind me. On Monday, I started to taper so doing very little swimming. On Tuesday I went to SiverSprings to remind myself of some of the 20km+ Sessions I did there and to meet with EilĂ­s Burns, Channel Coach Supreme... Wednesday was the dreaded "back to school", into 5th Yr, the beginning of the Leaving Cert. course, and it was a big shock to the system! At least it gives me something to take my mind off waiting while I'm in Dover. Thursday morning was back to Club Trainig with Fermoy SC, I have to say I had been looking forward to this all summer! Today was up to the City to get all the stuff for Dover, and to treat myself to a few things. Tomorrow is the send-off swim and barbeque at Sandycove for myself, Lisa Cummins and Sylvain Estadieu, all heading to Dover so that should be good fun...

I will post when I arrive in Dover and the day before the swim to let everyone know that I'm off. You can follow the swim online. There should be somebody doing hourly updates and Twitter here: and you can also see the boats progress by satellite on, I think it will most likely be Sea Satin but will confirm later. Hopefully these will be kept up to date on the day of the swim...

Expect a new post as soon as we arrive in Dover on Wednesday evening,

PS - There should also be a post very soon about the Blackwater Sprint Triathlon which took place last weekend...

Sunday 16 August 2009

Almost there........

I can't believe that it's so close now. There is less than four weeks to the start of my tides! Since 1st January this year I have swam 940km, and will begin to taper in the next two weeks when I reach the 1,000km mark; that's One Million Metres... I am starting to cut down now to only doing one or two hour swims up in the resevoir. At this stage I am really itching to swim!

So far I have raised almost €4,000 for the Irsh Cancer Society. Please help me hit the €5,000 mark before we leave for England. You can donate online at or if you're living around Fermoy, call into The Bookshop in Pearse Square where they have a sponsorship card instore.

This year has been a great year for Channel swimming in Cork. So far six locals have made it and there are four more to go. This ties with 2005 which was the record year for successes from Cork. Also, out of the Distance Camp back in June, eight out of eight have made it so far, and there are more to come. I think all of us who are left to go are feeling the pressure not to break the 100% success rate so far this year.

That's it for the moment... I will do another post around the end of the month.

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Irish 17km Championships 2009

This was my first year taking part in the Irish 17km Championships, held in Lough Erne, Co. Fermanagh. Yes, Co. Fermanagh is over the border in Northern Ireland but swimming in Ireland is an "all island" afair so both the Republic and the North are included in Championships. The swim was run by Martin Cullen of The Irish Long Distance Swimming Association (ILDSA).

This was also my first proper swim after a two week holiday and a total journey of more than 10hrs to get to the start line! So, I really wasn'e expecting to do particularly well. The water was on ok temperature. It wasn't very comfortable but it could have been alot colder... I finished the swim in 4:10:36. I was hoping to do it in under 4hrs but that wasn't too bad for my first time doing it. I finished in third place overall. The winner was Lisa Broadfield of the USA and second was Simon Lee of Great Britain. Even though it was the Irish Championships, they gave the trophy to the English guy. He had been winning the event for the last 10yrs but they always awarded the trophy to the Irish Champion... It would have to be the one year that they decide to change it!

I did enjoy the event though. It felt very long and was very boring.....exactly as a swim should be. Maybe next year I will go back and do it slightly better! Sorry about the lack of pictures... My Dad wasn't there! Unfortunately I can't seem to get eny so we'll just have to imagine it.....