SWIM THROUGH DARKNESS
100KM-IN THE DARK-IN THE SURF
Al Mennie sets out on December 1st 2020 to complete a total of 100KM of swimming off the frigid beaches of the north coast of Ireland...IN THE DARK!
"The Pandemic is hitting everyone extremely hard not least our charities. I've seen several reports on the news about donations slowing to a degree that I felt I must try and help. Maybe I can't raise much money in the current economic climate but hopefully I can help raise awareness and maybe someone will keep their head above water as a result"
The challenge is expected to take months to complete depending on weather conditions. Al will swim only in the hours of darkness and will swim varying distances depending on sea state. Al will swim through the surf, not in the open flat water. He will face continual battering of the surf, swim through currents and no doubt battle the elements as he begins his challenge in the darkest month of all, December.
Photograph of Al Mennie on the north coast of Ireland in a wetsuit by Charles McQuillan @photomcq
SWIM A TOTAL OF 100KM
THROUGH DARKNESS AMONG WAVES
NORTH COAST NORTHERN IRELAND
RAISE AWARENESS OF DEPRESSION AND FUNDS FOR CHARITY AWARE NI
latest swim total -51.73km complete -48.27km left to swim
MEET THE SWIMMER
Al Mennie is a Big Wave Surfer and Ocean Adventurer. Al is best known for his big wave surfing exploits. Al was a pioneer of big wave surfing in Ireland as well as a pioneer of the now infamous big wave location of Nazare in Portugal, home to the biggest waves in the world. In the winter of 2012, Al was the first person to use a paddle board to cross the treacherous waters of the North Channel where the Irish Sea clashes with the Atlantic Ocean between Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Al has previously raised funds for NI Chest Heart and Stroke and has also written books on the subjects of Anxiety and Fear, Bereavement and Confidence.
In ‘Swim Through Darkness’ Al returns to his roots, as a swimmer, to raise awareness of Depression during the pandemic. Al will swim a total of 100 kilometers in the dark, through the surf in the darkest, coldest months of the year to raise awareness of depression and vital funds for Aware NI. The challenge will see Al continually return to the sea and swim parallel to the shore in the hours of darkness as surf pounds the north coast of Ireland. He will draw upon his lifetime of surf knowledge and experience to navigate his way along the shore swimming through the darkness.
MOTIVATION FOR SWIM THROUGH DARKNESS
"I am primarily doing this to raise awareness of depression and hopefully in doing so I help someone to keep their head above water in dark times. It is very easy to not realise someone is struggling and I hope in some way by raising awareness that help is reached to those that need it. I also want to highlight the resources available at Aware NI. Charity donations are of course welcome and will be put to good use but ultimately helping people to find their way is my main objective. You just don't know how bad things are for the person next to you, not everyone talks about what they are facing. It may be something you say or do that changes their outlook for the better.
I have personally lost friends to suicide which stemmed from depression and I know many others who have also lost loved ones to suicide. Often people wish they could have done something before it was too late. This is my something.
Setting a monetary value has made me feel uneasy given the current economic climate. If some money is raised as well as awareness that would be fantastic but if donations are low, I can understand why. I have set a target of £3000. I hope there’s at least 300 people out there that might find £10 to donate"
It is difficult to comprehend the number of people that are feeling like this everyday but especially this year. The most recent figures in Northern Ireland alone, pre-2020 estimate that as many as 1 in 9 people are diagnosed with depression and no doubt lots more go un-diagnosed.
‘This week, AWARE used World Mental Health Day to share statistics on the number of people in Northern Ireland with depression. People may or may not be surprised to find that Northern Ireland has seen a 60% increase in the number of adults diagnosed with depression in the last five years. In 2018, 1 in 9 adults were diagnosed with depression – a jump from 1 in 15 in 2013.’ Source:
Al Mennie ready to swim. Image by Mark Millar