Thursday, 2 February 2012

What's ahead?


The headline reads: “A 42 year old South African hopes to become the first person to swim between the Mull of Kintyre and the Ballycastle coastline in the summerMany endurance swimmers have tried unsuccessfully to conquer this treacherous North Channel route – but Wayne Soutter believes he could be the first to complete the challenge”. Yup, that’s me: Wayne-burning-coal-in-the-brain-Soutter.

Leading Marine Scientist and CRS member Joe Breen is clear about the difficulties such a swim presents: “This is one of the most dangerous and volatile stretches of water in the world with many tides converging in the area. Apart from the prospect of searing pain caused by jellyfish stings, Wayne will have to navigate his way through rip currents and eddies which will test his stamina to the extreme – even on a good day.”

Ahh yes, the challenges I face. Let me take a moment to summarise the vital statistics:
· 11 miles of hostile open water
· 120C H2O (that’s code for very cold water)
· The strongest tides in the world, clocking in at 3,5m/sec...yes you read that correctly 3.5 meters per second.
· Huge swells created by the mighty Atlantic objecting to being corseted into the rather narrow North Channel strait
· Up to 7...10...maybe 15 hours of non-stop swimming, in only a Speedo, a swimming cap and goggles.
· The psychological (water) bedfellows of depression and and a burning desire to end the pain of the cold
· Only isotonic drinks and the occasional fish as company.
· And of course, *drumroll* The Jellyfish.

Am I up to it? Hell yeah! Now excuse me while I go eat another two pork pies on the way to the gym.  

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Wayne likes pork pies and Guinness. He likes routine and predictability. He loves his family. He's 40+, short(ish), balding and battling with waistline expansion. He's been known to occasionally play a good round of golf, likes to tinker with 'stuff' and has rescued a group of friends from the African wild by fixing a Land Rover with a jellybaby.

He's never been a great fan of physical exertion. In short (apart from the jellybaby incident), Wayne is an ordinary person. And he's about to do something really amazingly, astoundingly and astonishingly extra-ordinary. He's going to swim the the treacherous, never-been-swum-before channel between Kintyre (Scotland) and Ballycastle (Ireland). For charity. This is his story.