Jellyfish won’t stop cross channel attempt

GIANT jellyfish glowing eerily purple and trailing massive tentacles are proving to be an unexpected challenge for a father and his pals facing a unique English Channel swim early next month.

All of the eight team members aiming to raise funds for Temple Street Hospital’s renal unit have been stung during practice swims by the Portuguese Man-o-War jellyfish that have swarmed into the waters on Ireland’s east coast.

Kevin Prendergast, who gave his son, Gavin, 14 a life-saving kidney in 1997, had to cry off from swimming practice last weekend and spend the rest of the day in a warm bath at home in a bid to ease the pain of stings that covered most of his body.

Gavin was born with a rare kidney condition and had to spend his most of the first three years of his life in hospital.

The boy underwent various forms of aggressive treatment to prolong the life of one kidney and prepare him for his transplant, which, thankfully, was a complete success.

Gavin, who used to undergo 12 hours of dialysis treatment every day, is thriving and only has to attend Temple Street as an out-patient for check-ups

The eight swimmers, who make up the Are We There Yet challenge team, are all members of the North Dublin Winter Swimming Club and some are members of the Irish water polo team.

The other members are Jimmy Seery, Paul Byrne, Jeff Hopkins, Mick Kenny, and brothers, Frank, Eamonn and Matthew Cope.

Spokesman for the group, Robbie Cousins, said the channel crossing would be monitored by the Channel Swimming Association under their strict rules.

“They hope to set off on Monday, August 9, but it all depends on weather conditions and tides though the long-term forecast is very good,” he pointed out.

“Night swimming, jellyfish, powerful tides, sea sickness and hypothermia are among the challenges that await them in the busiest shipping channel in the world, but they are determined to complete the challenge and make Gavin proud,” he said.

The swimmers have already raised over €8,000 and are hoping to exceed their target of €10,000 in the next couple of weeks.

During the cross-channel challenge each team member will swim for just over an hour, with about five minutes to complete the changeover.

The channel swim generally starts from a beach near Dover called Shakespeare Beach with swimmers aiming for a point on the French coast called Cap Griz Nez. With swimmers working across the tides the distance travelled can be several kilometres more than a direct course, which is 35kms.

Those wanting to get involved can visit www.swimmingthechannel

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