Last weekend Glenn Treacy and the relay team landed on French soil (see photo over the fold) completing their channel swim relay in 12 hours 59 minutes. Their two other teams made it which may be a channel swim record.
With an excellent marine forecast and very rigorous preparation they were confident of success but there was still much drama on the swim and the challenge was tougher than they had anticipated. Setting out at 3am, on the turn of the tide, from Folkestone on the 'Folkestone Angler' skippered by Kevin Sherman, the night swim was very uncomfortable. Glenn says: "The movement of lights on the boat in the pitch darkness made all of us queasy. The middle section of the channel is like a motorway for ships and the swimmers encountered huge waves thrown off by the cargo ships, passenger liners and fast ferries."
Here we are – Donal, myself (Glenn), Fergus, Catherine, Ciaran and Eoin – minutes after landing on the beach near Cap Gris Nez
Glen continued: "The real drama began as we neared France. Ciaran Gargan was attacked by a seagull during his second swim. The bird dived into the water in front of him and started biting on his hand. Donal, our team manager, made him a bandage as his hand started to bleed badly from the deep cuts made by the razor like bill of the bird. (Below: Donal bandages Ciaran's hand after the gull attack)
"Our next drama was the tide. Although France seemed a stones throw away the tide was preventing us making any progress towards shore. Our skipper told us that if we didn't start making headway, we would be washed around the headland and this would add a further 4-5 hours to the swim. Eoin Keating put in a fantastic swim to get us closer to shore. Fergus had to swim hard and contend with the attentions of a very large seal and jellyfish the size of dustbins. By sheer luck he missed the jellyfish.
"The honour of the swim to shore fell to me and I tried to put the tide, seagulls, jellyfish and seals out of my head as I swam to shore. It was a short distance but my fear was that the tide would make it impossible. After a short sprint I was relieved to see the sandy bottom of the sea and soon I was standing on french ground. In a very surreal moment a nice french woman asked me where I'd come from and offered me a biscuit. "
Glenn and the team would like to thank everyone for all their support. Keep your eyes peeled for the final instalment on the Iasc project in the Health Supplement of the Irish Times sometime in October.
Speeding back to Folkestone flying the Channel Swimming Association flag