Lough Neagh swimmers in relay from Donaghadee to Scotland

From swimming in our local lough, six members of the Lough Neagh Monster Dunkers have completed a relay swim from Northern Ireland to Scotland.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 1:55 pm

The group of open water swimmers, who meet regularly at Oxford Island, are celebrating after the lengthy and arduous swim across the North Channel.

The team set off at 02:18am on Thursday, June 17 in the darkness from Robbie’s Point, outside Donaghadee and began their journey towards the shores of Scotland across the North Channel.

The team of three men and three women embarked on this journey after 18 months of open water training, through the long cold winter months and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stephanie Lyness from Waringstown, Alison O’Hagan from Lurgan, AndreaJudge from Portadown, John McKenna from Glenavy, Brian Muckian from Silverbridge and Steven Grimley from Newry who took part in the North Channel Relay last weekend.

The Lough Neagh Monster Dunkers - Andrea Judge from Portadown, Stephanie Lyness from Waringstown, BrianMuckian from Silverbridge, Stephen Grimley from Newry, Alison O’Hagan from Lurgan and John McKenna from Glenavy are all seasoned open water swimmers.

They are regulars at braving the cold of the sea water on a weekly basis, so to have water temperatures of 11-12 degrees for their crossing, the sea water seemed tropical.

Andrea said: “Although, the real challenge was not just having to face off the hundreds, possibly thousands of Lion’s Mane jellyfish who inhabit the North Channel but also the strong currents that make the North Channel such a notoriously hard stretch of water to swim.”

She explained that, though the team persevered through the darkness and had a calm day on the sea, as they closed in on the shoreline the tide was working against them, leaving a difficult finish.

Stephanie Lyness from Waringstown, Alison O’Hagan from Lurgan, AndreaJudge from Portadown, John McKenna from Glenavy, Brian Muckian from Silverbridge and Steven Grimley from Newry who took part in the North Channel Relay last weekend.

Alison O’Hagan said: “At one point we thought we were around an hour from Portpatrick, but as the time went on the shore didn’t seem to be coming closer.

“The team dug deep for the last few hours and made it to Portpatrick in time for their tea.

“Infinity Channel Swimming expertly guided the Lough Neagh Monsters through their swim, providing support and advice throughout the journey from a superb crew aboard one of their new boats, Anantya.”

John McKenna said: “The Lough Neagh Monsters couldn’t have done this swim without the planning, support and facilities provided by Infinity, they really are the best in the business.”

Stephanie Lyness from Waringstown, Alison O’Hagan from Lurgan, AndreaJudge from Portadown, John McKenna from Glenavy, Brian Muckian from Silverbridge and Steven Grimley from Newry who took part in the North Channel Relay last weekend.

Andrea added: “No big records were broken like my little brother (Chris Judge) did recently but we all emptied the tank on the day and got the job done.”

Two weeks ago Chris, with different team mates, swam from Ireland to Wales and achieved a new Guinness World Record.

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