Rafferty finds window to cross Channel

by Gazette Reporter

A CLONDALKIN man battled the dark sea, strong tides and personal injury while swimming from England to France via the English Channel last month while raising awareness for the Irish Cancer Society in association with Swim4Life.
Niall Rafferty, spoke to GazetteSport early in July ahead of the 32km challenge and informed us he would have a three-day window to do the challenge.
Catching up with the water polo player and Director of Swim4Life after the swim, we asked if everything go to plan.
“In the end, it did more or less,” he said. “I went over on the Monday evening, but when we arrived we got a call from the pilot saying we may not get out at all during our window.
“Basically we had Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to do it. But the conditions weren’t looking great for the week ahead and the pilot was giving updates every three hours and was saying we might not get out Tuesday, we might not get out Wednesday, and we might not get out Thursday.
“It was then decided that our best window would be on Thursday morning, at 2am, and that window would then close at 2pm as the conditions were set to turn,” continued Rafferty.
“So I hopped in the boat at two in the morning and by 2.55am I was in the sea and the swim officially began.
“The conditions were rough to be honest, and obviously it was very dark. But, after 13 and a half hours I reached France.”
After more than half a day in the water, the swimmer was asked how it felt to set feet on dry land once again, and his competitive nature was clear in his reply.
“It felt great but I thought I could have done it a couple of hours quicker, so I wasn’t exactly overjoyed initially, which might sound strange.
“The tide was quite strong and it resulted in my shoulder getting in a bit of a trouble. I was essentially swimming in the same spot for three hours which, when it adds to your time makes you a bit angry but over all I’m glad I’ve done it and delighted to have raised awareness for the Irish Cancer Society at the same time.”
Before he plans his next big challenge, Rafferty now returns to promoting the life-long benefits of swimming for safety, health and fitness and recreation through Swim4Life, who provide classes in Clondalkin Leisure Centre.

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