Man battles jellyfish and treacherous waters to be first to complete swim from Mull of Kintyre to Antrim
A FATHER of two has become the first person to complete one of the world’s toughest swimming endurance challenges – conquering treacherous currents, swarms of jellyfish and ferocious tides to swim from the Mull of Kintyre to the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland.
• South African father of two becomes first to successfully swim route from Mull of Kintyre to Antrim coast
• Wayne Soutter battled jellyfish, freezing temperatures and treacherous waters to complete challenge
Wayne Soutter, 43, battled through near exhaustion and plunging sea temperatures to enter the record books after a gruelling 12-hour swim across the dangerous waters of the North Channel of the Irish Sea.
The businessman, who swam the English Channel two years ago, admitted as he recovered from his marathon that there were times he feared for his life as he battled across the 10.5-mile stretch of water, accompanied by two support boats.
He is the first swimmer to complete the route between the Mull of Kintyre and County Antrim. Nine men and four women have successfully swum an alternative route from Portpatrick to Donaghadee in County Down. The alternative route, at 21 miles, is almost twice as long as Kintyre to County Antrim route, but it has far milder currents.
Mr Soutter said: “There were definitely times when I was scared for my life. I was extremely tired – it was pitch dark, and at times I was drifting a bit further away from the boats.”
He said the fierce currents and tides had swept him miles south then miles north during his epic swim. He was also forced to swim though a vast “field” of jellyfish, unable to find a way to avoid the swarm in his path.
“The jellyfish were a bit of a challenge, he said. “They weren’t spread evenly across the swim. They were in pockets and there were times when I would swim into these fields of jellyfish. I was looking round for a way out and there were just hundreds of jellyfish in every single direction.
“Eventually, I had to put my head down and swim through them – there was no other way. I got stung a lot down my arms, my chest and in my mouth.”
During the swim, the bitter cold began to take its toll. He said: “I was probably going to give up about six hours in – I lost sense of time, how far I was. I thought I was going to be better prepared, but there were times when I was extremely cold. I thought I would be OK, then the sun went away and I was in agony.”
Mr Soutter, a South African who heads a computer software firm in the south of England, originally planned to make landfall at Torr Head. But he was carried miles away from his destination before eventually completing his swim at Kenbane Head, north-west of Ballycastle, at 11:30pm on Sunday – 12 hours and 21 minutes after setting off.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east