Hero’s welcome for Lisa after Channel crossings

THE first Irish person to swim the English Channel and back in one go received a hero’s welcome home last night.

And Lisa Cummins joked that the only water she wants to be in for the next few days is a warm jacuzzi. Her parents, Declan and Margaret, and her sister, Amy, were joined by dozens of friends and supporters at Cork airport as Lisa, 26, from Blackrock in Cork, touched down on dry land after her remarkable record-setting feat of endurance.

The postgraduate student at UCC spent 35 hours and 36 minutes swimming back and forth across the world’s busiest shipping channel – known as the Everest of open-water swimming. Lisa now joins an elite club of just 20 people who have completed the dual crossing. Lisa also became the first female in the world to complete the swim without ever having completed a previous channel crossing before.

Lisa has a swollen throat and lip after spending a day-and-half in frigid water and although elated, she admitted she is looking forward to a long rest.

“I am totally shell shocked by the whole experience,” she said.

“It was great though. I enjoyed 90% of it but I am really looking forward now to a long rest. And I won’t be getting back in the water for a while – maybe a jacuzzi.”

She set off from a beach near Dover at 10am on Saturday on the first leg – a 34km crossing as the crow flies. But tides mean most swimmers actually cover between 42km and 48km. Lisa landed on a French beach just over 14 hours later. “I had a 10 minute break there and put on some fresh grease, picked up a stone as a souvenir and swam back to England,” she said.

Lisa swam through the darkness of Saturday night and despite excruciating pain in her left shoulder, she made landfall at Dungeness just before 10pm on Sunday night.

Lisa, who is working towards a PhD in computer science, praised her coach Eilís Burns, of the Source Health and Fitness Centre, who has coached eight solo Channel swimmers.

John Conroy, the secretary of the Cork Masters Swim Club said: “It was an absolutely tremendous effort. The Irish swimming community is just so, so proud of her.” Lisa’s swim raised thousands of euro for three charities – the Jack and Jill Foundation, Marymount Hospice and the Cork ARC Cancer Support House.

* www.arockieswim.com

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