The North Channel, Ireland to Scotland 2012

The Luck of the Irish….

….was not on my side during my recent trip to Ireland, but the love of the Irish certainly was.

My journey started out on July 25th from my home about half an hour from the Townsville airport, there was the usual hour or so to wait after check-in before my long journey to Donigal in the North Western corner of Ireland began. From Townsville there was a two hour flight to Brisbane, a few hours to get from the domestic to the international terminals in Brisbane and through customs and immigration. An eight hour flight to Singapore, a couple of hours there and then a thirteen hour flight to London Heathrow, now for the tricky part navigating my way between terminals in Heathrow airport with very little sleep in time to catch my flight from Heathrow to Dublin.

Dublin is where I met Irish swimmer Nuala Moore who’d flown up from Dingle in the South

Western corner of Ireland to greet me and join me for the weekend at her friend and fellow open water swimmer Anne Marie Ward’s home.

From Dublin we boarded a bus for a three and a half hour ride up to Letterkenny where we were met by the friendly, wide open arms of Anne Marie. This part of the journey proved a little easier than expected…I
had no luggage to carry since it (yes both my bags) had been lost somewhere between Townsville and Dublin! Our first stop in Letterkenny was to buy some new socks and undies to get me by until my luggage arrived over the following two days.

Nuala, Anne Marie and I had a wonderful time over the next few days before Nuala had to leave us and return home with the promise to come back up to Bangor in Northern Ireland to help on my North Channel swim. Meanwhile Anne Marie and I diligently trained twice a day in a bid to get me acclimatised as quickly as possible for my 21 mile swim between Ireland and Scotland in 12-13C waters.

My North Channel swim was always going to be a battle of time. Living in the tropics and following shortly after my Cuba–Florida swim attempt in June, I knew I could only stay in water at these temperatures for a limited amount of time, to be successful on my crossing I needed everything to go right. Finally the weather settled and Anne Marie, her friend Brendan and I drove down to Bangor and booked into a local hotel, while Nuala scooted across the country using all resources, trains, planes and automobiles to be in Bangor in time for my swim early the following morning.

The weather forecast was for winds from the North West in the morning turning Westerly in the afternoon. This was looking good and I hoped to have the wind behind me for most of my crossing. However on the day of my swim the wind blew a cold North Easterly the entire day. The headwind slowed my progress and I was unable to reach the Scottish coast before the tide
changed and began to push me back towards Ireland. I’d been in the cold 12.9-13.6 waters of the North Channel for around 11.5 hours, much longer than I hoped my swim would take and my team made the correct decision to pull me from
the water.

The following day Naula returned home and Anne Marie, Brendan and I drove back to Donegal. I had quite some time until my flight home to Australia and changing my flights proved too expensive, Anne Marie and her family made me very welcome, they had many visitors that week since there was a Christening in the family, the entire family graciously made me feel welcome
and join all the festive activities before I bussed it back down to Dublin for a little sightseeing a few days before my departure.

During this time I had time to dwell on all the training, money, planning and efforts I’d ploughed into my swimming this year. My dreams had been to swim across the Florida Straits between Cuba and Florida then complete the Ocean’s Seven by swimming the North Channel. I’d been unable to complete either of these two swims. I wrote to a friend that I was overwhelmingly disappointed with the outcome of my swimming this year.

After returning home I saw a woman who loves to follow my swimming and is always interested in my latest adventures, she asked about my swim in Ireland and I told her that I hadn’t made it…her reply was “never mind I’m sure you gave it your best. The important thing is did you have a good time?”

Her question rocked me for a moment, my answer was definitely yes! “Well, that’s what’s important then.” she said.

It’s so true, this year I’ve travelled to some wonderful places, met some wonderful people, felt the love of the Irish and so many

I fell down, I got up again and I brushed myself off…..with the help of my friends – Thank You!

The North Channel –Between Ireland and Scotland – Penny Palfrey

Swimming for over 41 hours between Cuba and Florida takes a large toll on the body. The past six weeks have been a balance of recovery and training in preparation for my North Channel swim between Ireland to Scotland this month.

Over the past two weeks my training’s consisted of two swims per day in the recently cold (for me) wet and windy weather of Donegal in North West Ireland where I’m staying with North Channel swimmer Anne Marie Ward and spent a few fun days with open water swimmer Nuala Moore of Dingle, South West Ireland.

The important thing for me now is to acclimatise to the much colder waters of the North Channel in comparison to the tropical waters of the Florida Straits. I lost four kilograms during and following my Cuba – Florida attempt so I’ve been trying to gain some weight to prepare for the cold waters of the North Channel.  Other challenges swimmers face here are Jellyfish, strong currents and changeable weather conditions.

The North Channel is my final swim in the Oceans Seven Challenge; the six I’ve previously completed are the English Channel, Cook Strait NZ, Gibraltar Strait between Spain and Morocco, Molokai/Kaiwi Channel Hawaii, the Catalina Channel Southern California, and the Tsugaru Strait in Japan.

Stay posted for more info and thank you for following – Penny Palfrey

One thought on “The North Channel, Ireland to Scotland 2012”

  1. I have watched you brave people swimming on t.v, I’m afraid of water myself. Have just found out that I am related”Very distantly” to Annemarie Ward, through the Boyle family. You all do a wonderful job, keep it up Marian.

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Open water swimming crossings and races in Australia and around the world. Stories and reports of our adventures in and out of the water.