Friday, 25 March 2011

Virgin Dublin to Holyhead relay

The OW discussion forums are buzzing with the news that Richard Branson and Ronan Keating are headlining a relay team of 10 people planning to swim the 51 miles from Dublin to Holyhead in order to raise £1 million for Cancer Research UK. There's a bit of scepticism floating about - mostly because they are claiming that this would be a world record when in fact much longer relay swims have been accomplished (and without the aid of wetsuits) - see the Daily News of Open Water Swimming for an even-handed discussion, and some good links to other ultra-relay swims.

The publicity materials for the swim reference the presence of sharks as part of the challenge, but as many of the forum discussions have pointed out, a much bigger threat is the lion's mane jellyfish and the harsh conditions... plus Ronan Keating has already stated that he's not much of a swimmer. Hmm. I think it's a shame that they've talked up claims for the swim that aren't strictly accurate, but I'm sure that this was the result of inadequate research rather than purposeful misrepresentation; we also know that 'big talk' is necessary to drum up the hype necessary to raise significant sums of money. From my perspective, the much bigger challenge is that it will involve being on a slow-moving, reeling boat for hours and hours - the very thought makes me want to reach for a bucket.

So, I say, hats off to them for taking this on - you couldn't pay me, for one, to try such a thing (and, to be honest, no-one who's seen me in action on a boat would). Hopefully they'll amend some of the rhetoric to reflect other ultra-relay achievements - I don't think that they need it to be a world record to still be an ambitious and impressive swim, whatever the outcome. And such a high profile event can only be good for the sport of open water swimming.

1 comment:

  1. Completely agree - when I saw the facebook page for this my first reaction was that they'd highlighted the distance and 'sharks' as factors. What about the sea conditions, temperatures, jellies...and the odds which are stacked against them. It's not any easy swim by any stretch of the imagination. Good for them for giving it a go but rather them than me. Bleeeurgh!



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