Swimmer’s 13-hour ‘warm-up’ tour of Cork coast

CRAMPS, heavy swells and a 26-mile swim along the West Cork coast from Baltimore to Schull, taking in the Fastnet Lighthouse, didn’t deter marathon swimmer Steve Redmond.

For the Ballydehob athlete, now almost halfway through a gruelling tour of the world’s toughest oceans, this was merely the warm-up.

Redmond is the only person to have completed the swim, which began in Baltimore, passed Sherkin Island and Cape Clear, circled the Fastnet Lighthouse and ended in Schull.

However, the gruelling 13-hour tour of the West Cork coast merely formed part of his preparations for the next stage of his world marathon attempt.

Father-of-two Steve has so far raised €2,500 towards the overall €4,000 cost of his latest challenge — the notorious Catalina Channel in California.

Redmond flies to California in October for the fourth leg of the tough Ocean’s Seven Challenge, a swim of the world’s most difficult channels and the marine equivalent of the formidable Seven Summits mountain climbing challenge. The Ocean’s Seven Challenge has never been completed.

The Catalina Channel involves a 21-mile, 15-hour swim through cold, rough waters off the coast of California on October 6 next.

Redmond is expecting it to be tough — he admits that the swim of the more familiar west Cork waters on August 17, which he completed in 13 hours and 20 minutes, was very difficult: “The length of the swim was formidable, and although the weather conditions were not bad, I suffered cramps in my stomach and arms about four hours in and I thought we were finished.”

However, with the support of his crew and a back-up swimmer who got into the water alongside him for 20 minutes, the 46-year-old managed to keep going: “I was physically sick in the water but I managed to continue. There were big swells and high winds around the Fastnet but now I’m the only person to have achieved this.”

Steve paid tribute to his committed back-up team — skipper of the back-up boat Kieran Collins, along with Pat O’Driscoll, Yvonne Kane and Padraig Hayes.

A recent local fund-raising event netted him €2,500 of the overall €4,000 cost of travel and accommodation for the Catalina Challenge — he is paying the €1,200 cost of the swim himself. However he appealed for support with the cost of his three next challenges — Japan, New Zealand and Hawaii.

So far the Ballydehob man has conquered the Strait of Gibraltar and also successfully completed a 20-hour English Channel swim in 2009. He also emerged triumphant from a swim through the extremely tough North Channel, from Scotland to Northern Ireland in 2010 — a 17-hour swim of about 40 kilometres.

* For further information on the swim visit Steve’s Facebook page on steveredmondsoceansevenchallenge.

Alternatively contact Steve on 086 4025000 or Dave Williams on 086 8641575.

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