Swimmer targeting record 56-mile crossing

An Irish man vowed tonight to become the first person ever to swim the gruelling 56-mile channel between Dublin and Holyhead in Wales.

An Irish man vowed tonight to become the first person ever to swim the gruelling 56-mile channel between Dublin and Holyhead in Wales.

Feilim Ó Maoláin will attempt the record breaking 40-hour feat without fins or a wetsuit to raise funds for a homeless shelter.

“I’m under no illusions. I think it is going to be very tough if I can do it at all, it can only happen when we get good weather conditions,” Feilim, from Dublin’s Smithfield, said.

Feilim said he would not be deterred by the fact the Radiological Institute of Ireland found measurable levels of radioactive waste leaked from the nuclear plant Sellafield in the Irish Sea.

“I was told the radioactive waste sinks to the bottom and it wouldn’t pose to much of a threat. The way I see it is that I’ve been swimming in the Irish Sea now for 20 years,” Feilim said.

If Feilim is successful he will be the first person on record to swim the entire 56 miles without a break.

The venture is to raise funds for Brother Kevin Crowley, who runs the Capuchin Day Centre, which helps homeless people around Dublin city.

Feilim said: “I used to live within a few hundred feet of it and I knew Br Kevin and I think the charity is a worthwhile one and would benefit greatly.”

Br Kevin said the centre now provides over 300 free meals, including breakfast and dinner, to Dublin’s homeless and needy each day.

He said: “I am so grateful for his concern for the homeless in donating all his sponsorship money to the Capuchin Day Centre.

“I wish him every success in realising his dream and offer my prayers for God’s blessings and safe swimming conditions on the day.”

The public servant, who has been swimming since he was a child, said he hopes to raise around €1,000 for every mile.

The 44-year-old will be accompanied by a 30-foot boat and a crew, including an observer, pilot, paramedic, feeder and a skipper funded by SISK building contractors, in case he gets into difficulty.

There is no official date set for the swim as there must be a 72-hour period of complete calm for Feilim to make the swim.

Skipper David Jerrard is keeping an eye on weather conditions during August and September to identify a time.

Feilim said those good conditions probably occur about once every summer.

He plans to head off from the North Stack in Holyhead and head towards Dun Laoighaire between Skerries and Bray.

“If I am lucky enough to be able to finish it, even if it is at four in the morning like it was last time, there should be a few friends out to cheer me on.

“It will be pitch black below you, pitch black above you, and to the right where you come up for breath there are three light sticks hanging down off the boat. It is all you have between you and the abyss. It is up to you to stay with the boat . That is your only connection with light. It is a bit scary,” Feilim said.

Feilim swam the route as part of a six-man relay team in 1993, while in 1998 he crossed the 24-mile English Channel in 21 hours and 35 minutes.

This would be twice as long as his previous marathon swims.

The determined swimmer said he has been training for this for two years, with training sessions in the seas off Dublin’s Portmarnock, and he spent the last six months organising the event.

Feilim said: “I generally don’t have a problem with the cold but I do feel it, and it takes a certain amount of energy.”

He will be thrown carbohydrate drinks and bananas to eat along the way for energy.

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