Fundraising is a laborious task. There are only so many tabletop quizzes your friends can get excited to take part in, and door-to-door collecting can be a soul-destroying endeavor.
A group of swimmers from Dublin recently went above and beyond to raise money for a cancer charity, daring to attempt a physical feat that had never been done before – swimming the North Channel into the depths of January without wetsuit.
The group, known as the Walrus Swim Team, is made up of six swimmers: Niamh McCarthy, Declan Bradshaw, Vincent Donegan, Ger Kennedy, Colm Morris and Dave Berry. They started their journey from Donaghadee to Co Down at 6am on Friday 14th January and 1pm later arrived at the Cliffs of Scotland at 8pm.
“It’s every deep-sea swimmer’s goal to try one of the seven ocean swims,” Declan Bradshaw said in an interview with the Irish Post.
“However, no one has ever done it in the winter, and it comes with different challenges. It’s absolutely impossible for someone to be able to swim solo in the cold.”
Although the goal was always to complete the swim in January, the exact timing was determined by certain conditions that had to be met before they could take on the icy waters. The shed only had a two-week window during which they could take advantage of both optimum tidal and weather conditions.
“We were constantly looking at the weather forecast and looking at all these apps that were describing the wind and the movements of the waves. We thought it would be Wednesday, then it was Thursday and finally we landed on Friday.”
Granted, we’re not the best swimmers, but we can’t even imagine how daunting the task of swimming a full mile in freezing sea water must be.
“It’s a very long hour swim because all you can see is the boat and there are no steps or land masses you can point to,” Declan explained.
“There are a few people on the boat like the pilot watching and guiding you, and an observer from ILDSA to ratify the swim and also checking our stroke counts.
“I have 48 shots in a minute, but if that dropped to 40 or less, I would have been in trouble.”
The swimmer revealed that the gang were swimming in sea temperatures of 8-9°C and air temperatures of 6-7°C, made more severe by a wind chill temperature of 3°C. thinking about it, our teeth chatter.
“Blood is totally leaving your extremities so it’s very difficult to get dressed, move your hands, put your socks on or whatever. You need help getting dressed! It doesn’t matter what clothes you put on , you’re not going to warm up so you have to exercise with squats, stretches and jerks.”
Each swimmer covered an hour each of the 35km course, a mind-boggling test of endurance no doubt, but it paid off hugely as the group managed to raise a staggering €40,000 for the Gavin Glynn Foundation, a children’s cancer charity.
We take our hats off to the Walrus swim team. Our bathing caps.