When Stephen Redmond leaves his West Cork base it is often to swim across some of the world’s most challenging oceans. In 2013 he came unstuck as he attempted to make it from Ireland to Wales...
“Each year seems to get quicker and busier, the worst part being the start when I think little has changed. I find it hard to shake myself. I was very fortunate to be voted the World Open Water ‘man of the year’ last January, so that was pretty amazing. The World Open Water swimming conference was also held in Cork this year — the first time it’s ever been outside the USA. It was just amazing to have some of the best open water swimmers in the world here in October.
“I debated and thought long and hard whether to just take it easy for the year but it does not sit well with me, and swims and plans were put to me and my organising team. God really did laugh at my plans this year. We planned to do a solo swim from Rosslare to Wales in aid of the Irish Lifeboats in late August. As I say, plans are for making, but the water always has other ideas.
“After a very short three hours I abandoned the swim. I had planned for a 30-hour plus swim and training had gone well and everything seemed good as I set off. But after the attempt I discovered I had a chest infection that had put paid to any chance of completion.
“I returned to Rosslare twice in September to not even get in the water — it was very difficult to accept. It’s funny, I never view failure as failure, but rather a chance to learn and be stronger and ready for the next chance. So I will return next year to try again. Plus, it is always good to see and meet the monster.
“At last we planned a swim for the end of October and with the mild weather the water was still great. At least I bloody managed to get into the water! I swam from Castletownbere harbour to the Mizen head in around 7 minutes 40 seconds and only coming out when the north-westerly wind starting kicking up to force 6/7. It was a great swim but another one to be finished properly next year as I want to swim in Crookhaven to finish it.
“I’m still swimming most days in Loch Hyne and I’m blessed to have this amazing place on my doorstep to train in.
“Also I have been trying to help out various charities, such as Aware in Cork, the children’s unit in CUH and the Cork South West Autism Association. I know we are all burned from supporting charities, but I wake up most mornings angry that I cannot help and support people more. I always feel that we can never do enough and don’t really understand how lucky we are. I hope to keep helping them and that I can do some ice swims for them over the coming months.
“This will involve swimming a mile in water temperatures that are less than five degrees Celsius — it should be interesting to see how far I can go, but if they can keep going surely it is the least I can do to help them any way I can.
“When I asked for help over the last few years people have helped me. It only fair that I do everything in my power to help them. Every day is an adventure, a new opportunity, new people. I really want to give thanks to everyone who helped me get this far and I realise how bloody lucky I am.
“So keep kicking against the tide, and a great new year to everyone.”
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