20 hardy open water swimmers participated in the cold 7-mile Swim for Life 08 channel crossing in Ireland.
But only 5 swimmers finished the treacherous, yet spectacular, course from Church Bay on Rathlin Island to Ballycastle Beach. The wild Rathlin Island is located 6 miles from Northeast Ireland and 16 miles from Scotland and is known for over 40 recorded shipwrecks lying in the depths of its shoreline.
The swimmers faced seven different currents and tides, 10-11ºC (50-52ºF) water temperatures, yellyfish, stinging sea lice, basking sharks and sea turtles during the tough swim. Ger Carty of Dublin won in 3 hours and 4 minutes, recording the fastest-ever time for the crossing, beating Ned Denison.
"It's a highly challenging swim. The tides and currents are notorious," said Kenny Boyd, the Swim for Life 08 race director who was one of 3 people who had previously completed the swim over the last 50 years.
Photo of Church Bay on Rathlin Island.