January 13 2021
Charity AWARE NI
Swim Distance 4.21km
THANK YOU FOR CONTINUALLY SHARING AND DONATING.
AWARE NI https://aware-ni.org/
Video Clip by Mark Millar
Last night I set out with the objective to break the 40km mark. It was more of a psychological level than anything else. We had planned the route and had it set for me to swim at a time before the tide would start to impact at a particular location. The plan was to swim a total of 4.2km, split in two, along one stretch of coast. Whenever I arrived at the beach, the local fishermen were set up at various stages along the stretch I planned to swim. I don't ever want to disturb fishermen or other people so we scrambled to change location so as not to run out of time with the tide. Eventually we settled on a new plan and I got going.
The first swim had relatively inconsistent small one foot surf and the sea was black. There was no light whatsoever except for the odd crash of white water. I find those conditions to be the hardest. It is virtually impossible to know when waves are coming when they break so inconsistently. Its hard to get into their rhythm. They don't leave much of an aftermath of white water to streak the surface to guide my way and they come out of the blackness unannounced. I end up swimming on my side trying to keep my ears and eyes clear of the water to keep watch more so than I do in other conditions.
I got 1.7km done and went back to start a second swim. By then the tide had dropped, the surf was almost non existent and the current, started to turn against me. I was able to keep going despite the current at some points but it wasn't easy. I considered turning around and making a new third plan but I decided I had enough of a window to pull it off before the flow against me would be too much to overcome so kept going.
With the big low tides we are getting at the minute, the local Bann River flows out to sea hard and spills to the west more so than other stages in the moon. It is known locally as the Bann Tow. As the tide drops you can visibly see the Bann Tow reaching across the coast getting closer and closer to shore as the water level at the beach drops to meet it. It forces the water flow, close to shore to the west, depending on how low the tide is. Which, at the minute it is very low. If a big swell is also present then the flow can be incredible. If not for the training wall at Castlerock the effect of the river would be seen much earlier in the tide than it is.
So, it was this I was trying to keep ahead of but I was of to a late start yet I knew it was coming. My second swim ended shorter than the first at about 1.6km because another fisherman turned up and set up at the end of our new route as I was swimming. I had not hit my 4.2km target yet. I had to return for yet another swim.
By the time I started the third swim, there was then no surf, the sea and horizon were completely black and after about a quarter of a mile the tide hit me and I had no choice but to turn and swim with it.
Anyway, after a lot of adapting to the conditions and elements and a dose of stubbornness I eventually reached the target of 4.2km which puts us over the 40km mark. It was far from ideal but we got the job done.
It looks like tonight the conditions are rougher so hopefully more defined elements will present themselves though I will probably swim a shorter distance.
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.