Famous five swim English Channel


Published 09/08/2014 | 00:00

The Famous Five: The Munster Mermaid Relay Swimming Team who hope to swim the English Channel in August are Grace O’Callaghan, Sandra Howard, Maeve Mulcahy, Anna Marie Mullally and Maura O’Callaghan

DESPITE the choppy waters and spending five hours in the water in the dark, and seeing a beach light up with thunder and lightning, it didn't stop five hale and hearty women from completing their relay across the English Channel.

Last Friday at 10.30am, Mallow women Dr Maura O'Callaghan, Grace O'Callaghan and nurse Sandra Howard formed part of the five women relay team. They were joined by their colleagues Anna Maria Mullally and Maeve Mulcahy and their team was aptly named the 'Munster Mermaids.'

The women completed the magnificent feat in 16 hours and 15 minutes and landed in darkness on a French beach, which was lit up by thunder and lighting storm away in the distance.

Sandra Howard told The Corkman that it was "a very tough swim," but all were elated to have made it in their time frame. The ladies certainly put in extensive training for their swim which saw them leave Shakespeare Beach in Dover to do the relay swim across the English Channel.

"We have all been training hard for this. During the winter, we went to the pool and then hit the sea at the end of April," said Sandra.

Dr O'Callaghan was the first to land in France. "I really enjoyed it but the sea was rough. We spent five hours swimming in the dark. We are just delighted," she said on Wednesday

The Munster Mermaids were in the safe hands of pilot Lance Oram and his crew on board the Sea Satin. There was also official of the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation as well as the official observer, Loretta Cox and experienced team manager, Carol Cashell.

Grace O'Callaghan said they just had to endure the choppy water and get on with the task at hand. "It was tough but it was equally so, just brilliant. Once the sea settled, we all got into our stride," she said.

As they made their way to France, they were swimming against the tide, but it didn't faze these tough ladies.

The swim was in aid of the National Children's Hospital in Crumlin and donations can still be made via their Facebook page, Munster Mermaids. So far, they have raised €4,000.

When asked if they would be putting their feet up for the weekend and spend a few lazy days kicking back, with a smile, Grace they'd be heading for Sandycove and the sea again.

"Oh, we'll go for a dip at the weekend. Watch this space," laughed Grace.


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