Anne Marie makes history with swim to Scotland
A Woman made history yesterday when she became the first Irish lady to swim the North Channel connecting the Irish Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
Long-distance swimmer Anne Marie Ward (44), from Co Donegal, now joins an elite group of nine swimmers who completed the gruelling 35km swim between the north of Ireland and South Western Scotland. After three failed attempts, a delighted Anne Marie finally touched land at Portpatrick, Scotland, yesterday morning, after nine hours in the water.
"I am delighted I did it but I am fairly exhausted now," she said when she arrived back in Co Donegal yesterday afternoon.
"It has been a three-year project and it's been mentally and physically exhausting. I have a lot of aches and pains. It's just bed rest for me now," she said.
Anne Marie praised her support team of eight people who used three boats to monitor her progress through the night. The final kilometre of the swim took at least an hour to complete.
On her first attempt, two years ago, she was in the water for 17 and a half hours and within five kilometres of Scotland when she was beaten by the tide.
In 2009 she tried again but had to abandon due to bad weather.
And last month, Anne Marie tried again only to be defeated by a jellyfish attack, that left her covered in stings.
"It was painful but you have to just battle through things like that. In the end it just got too much for the body," she said.
At the age of 41, she became the 4th Irish woman to swim the English Channel, in 20 hours and four minutes.
She grew up in Ards, north Donegal dreaming of being an Olympic swimmer and swimming the channel.
She completed a number of island to island swims off the Donegal coast, culminating with a 14km swim from Tory Island to the mainland for charity, in 2003.
In 2006 she was one of a six-person relay team that swam 1,300km around the coastline of Ireland in a gruelling eight weeks.
"This gave me the confidence to dare to sign up for the English Channel and attempt to realise my dream," she said after completing the swim.