January 20 2021
Charity AWARE NI
Swim Distance 2.83km
THANK YOU FOR CONTINUALLY SHARING AND DONATING. Donations now over the £4,000 mark!
AWARE NI https://aware-ni.org/
On 18 January 2021 the half way point was reached. It was by far the toughest swim to date. It didn't go to plan from the word go but we got there in the end. When it comes to the sea, you can be extremely experienced and have lots of knowledge but that only prepares you for the unknown, it does not predict the sea. Had I not been so close to the 50km mark, I probably would have stopped long before swimming 2.8km. It was one of those nights with lots of surf but zero wind and not much tide. I find those nights to be really difficult to find my way. Added to that it was as black as black can be. Low cloud cover and mizzly rain obscured any available light from Donegal etc that often reflects some light for me to see.
I actually started a swim and came ashore after about 5 minutes. The long shore drift was just so powerful I could not overcome it. I changed plan with Leigh who was keeping an eye on me and we decided to switch direction and swim the other way. I went back into the water. After about 5 minutes of being with the flow, I was again hitting a similar flow from the opposite direction and continual surf was pushing me ashore. This happens a lot and eventually I find my way through and the currents are often with me then against me but that night they were stronger. I kept going. We had planned to do just two swims but it ended in three random distances to break the 50km mark purely because it was virtually impossible to push any further without either turning or going ashore and starting a new swim. We had to change location too in an attempt to find some consistency in the water but that was not to be the case. If you look at the charts below you can clearly see how I was getting moved around back and forth in and out as I tried to move along the shore. It was as if almost every set of waves that came through moved me in a different direction to the last. It was very difficult to keep any momentum up. Without doubt the most challenging conditions to date but we persevered and got there in the end. Its not as simple as oh there is a current against me, its stopping my progress, I must stop here and try again later. If I took that attitude to this I would not be breaking the 50km mark! I overcome the currents by using my surf knowledge. When a wave hits me it often counters the current and I can get a little bit further along until the current takes over again. At other times I know there is a sand bank that water is rushing off and once I cross it I will be free of the current. Each swim is made up of tiny little sections/problems/hurdles which I deal with in different ways with the goal of getting to the end. Surf Swimming is not like pool swimming, there are countless elements to contend with in both types of swimming that do not appear in both! So although at times the flow is very hard to overcome, it is rarely impossible if I use some of the other elements in my favour.
So, I didn't swim last night (19th). Well I did actually swim but I didn't record it as part of the 100km. We used yesterday to get some filming done. I plan to swim tonight at the start of what looks like bad northerlies coming. Incase you are new here, I don't swim in northerly winds because they tend to bring in river water and logs etc. I have another 50km to go, I cant risk getting sick or hit by something. I will swim tonight as the wind is only starting to turn but its looking like two days off after that at this point. Two days to refuel and recover.
Thank you for reading this far! Please if you have a few spare quid use it to help the charity AWARE NI via the link here.... A massive thank you to the few of you who have donated so far! I cant reply to you on the justgiving site but know that your words and the money for charity are greatly appreciated. I know how hard it is for everyone at the minute and to find something to donate is a great and kind thing thank you! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/al-mennie
Info - I am swimming a total of 100km through the darkness, in the darkest and coldest months of the year off the North Coast of Ireland. My aim...to inspire those who may be struggling in dark times to keep going. I also aim to raise awareness and funds for the depression Charity Aware NI. We all face dark times in life at some point and it can be extremely overwhelming.
Safety - Please don't think that because I am doing this that you too should do this or something similar. I am very experienced in the sea with knowledge that is only gained through many years of exposure to the sea in all her moods. I have a safety and location system in place including continual contact with people on land every time I swim.