The Round Ireland Swim-swimming around the Island -the 20th largest island in the world and mostly an unprecedented swim of the most adventurous details-still sounds surreal.
Background : We had been together as a team the full unit training as rescue units and swimmers for 18 months. We had intensive training weekends working 24 hrs a day with rescue units allowing us all to be in pressure situations-recovery drill of unconscious swimmers, relays, speed starts, remote locations and transfers. Swimming at 4am and training at night. The one major asset we brought to the unit was that we knew each other's strengths so well. Trust could come quickly.
plan: Swim to Downings -about 3 hrs was the projected time
The whole rescue unit of full RIBS were available for the first few days-with Team Alpha starting the first rotation to Carlingford Lough.
Swimmers: Anne marie Ward, Ryan Ward, Tom Watters, Ian Claxton, Nuala Moore, Leader: Henry O Donnell Land Ops: Jim Rescue Teams; Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta-Marine Co ordinator : Derek Flanagan- Command Boat Skipper: Brendan Proctor
Communications; Kathleen King.
Vessels: Dive Áine, Sea Breeze, Rachel Marie and the Ábhainn Ri
|Anne Marie Ward starting the Round Ireland Swim at Carrigfinn, Co Donegal|
Walking into the water and saying good bye was quite surreal..The risks and the fears -the next time we swim into this beach we will be swimming in from the South-today we are swimming up to the North. I kept picturing the country.
Once we passed Bloody Foreland-the gigantic cliff face, my eyes drifted up and saw Kerry Flags being waved frantic- Frances Lynch jumping up and down with Ciara and Sandra and I breathed in. Tory Island in the distance-I reached into my pocket and held on tight to the keyring of Garten Clay from Annemarie’s mother. Today was real, friends and family waiting on Maharorty pier and we were already behind by 2 hrs. The air was cold-the water was huge and black and the dark clouds racing in from the Atlantic. We stayed inside Gola Island and tried to pick up some tides. Romance was stripped from us as the hours on the RIBs were sitting exposed in wet clothes. The sudden realisation that we had no cover from the wind and cold.
"Ready for what is all I could keep repeating" over and over again-
The reaction of the body to the wild atlantic and nature was more than we had planned for-
Words meant nothing-as we emptied our bags and gear out to dry them. Happy that we were again in Anne Marie’s kitchen tomorrow night.. Drying and washing our equipment and 5 hours later we were back in the jeep to start another day.
Tantrums were minimal and food was good.