All that stood in the way of Steve Redmond’s goal was 40km of cold, open and unpredictable waters, a few sharks, some persistent jellyfish and some curious whales. Yet despite all this, the West Cork man has done the seemingly impossible and become the first to complete the “monster” roundtrip swim from Baltimore Harbour to the Fastnet Rock lighthouse.
Battered and broken, but full of joy at being back on dry land, Steve described his emotions as he prepared to set out on his voyage on 4am, Monday morning.
“I was terrified," he said. "I didn’t get enough sleep the night before which is often the case before big swims. But it was time to go and face the monster.”
Supporting Steve, 54, was a boatload of friends and family, including his wife Ann, his daughter Siadbh, as well as Jacinta Ni Luanai, and Noel Browne. At the helm of the boat was skipper Kieran Collins of Baltimore wildlife tours.
“It was very difficult," Steve said. "I wouldn’t have made it if not for my wife and daughter being with me. My wife, she would rather let me die than not finish. Once you hear that kind of thing, it becomes a state of mind.
“I have been training for every summer. We are trying to get it opened up as a swim like the English Channel. It was 11 degrees, which is cold for this time of year. Usually, you can find a warm stream of water but we had to do without it this time. The hardest part was the return leg. The desert we call it, just a stretch of white water.”
Steve did the swim by the English Channel rules, meaning he was not allowed to touch the boat, and everything, including eating, was done while in the water.
Steve described what it was like to be that far out in the vast, expansive ocean, far away from land.
“It’s very strange. There is a silence. Your nose closes up because of the saltwater. You can’t taste anything either, because the saltwater swells your tongue.
“You never look forward, because it will break your heart when you see how far you have left to go.”
Although the only people present were Steve and his team, the Corkman wasn’t entirely alone. The seas of the coast are beaming with an array of wildlife.
“The jellyfish are the worst. They sting your face, they always seem to get your face. I hate them more than life itself,” said Steve.
“The sharks, there are hundreds of them, they have no interest in me. They are probably just looking for mackerel and such. The Humpbacks come in for a look. It really is the most stunning place to swim.”
Now he is back on land, Steve says this will be his last long swim for a long time.
"I’m 54," he said, "I’m a dinosaur."