Friday 23 August 2019

Ocean Breakers: Sea swimmers claim world record for relay in 'dangerous' feat

‘Took to the brink’: Rachael Lee, Tom Healy and Ronan Joyce became the world’s fastest three-person-relay team to swim the North Channel
‘Took to the brink’: Rachael Lee, Tom Healy and Ronan Joyce became the world’s fastest three-person-relay team to swim the North Channel

Evie Kearney

Three Irish swimmers have broken the world record for the fastest relay swim across the North Channel.

Married couple Rachael Lee and Tom Healy along with Ronan Joyce, known as 'Ocean Breakers', beat the previous record by 58 minutes.

The amateur swimmers became the world's fastest one-way, three-person-relay team to swim the North Channel from Donaghadee, Co Down, to Portpatrick in Scotland by completing the 34.5km swim in nine hours and 20 minutes.

The previous record was set in 2012 when US relay team 'The Machine Men' finished the course in 10 hours and 18 minutes.

Full-time firefighter Ms Lee, who also holds the record for the fastest Irish person ever to swim the English Channel solo, described the open water swim as "a whole different ball game" for the seasoned trio.

"[It] took us to the absolute brink of our capabilities, both mentally and physically," she said.

Ms Lee's teammate, husband and fellow firefighter Mr Healy said they went for the record as a relay team because it is an "unbelievably dangerous" feat.

While the group are all well-known in the amateur sea swimming world, they do not swim professionally.

Ms Lee and Mr Healy, who are married, are full-time firefighters from Malahide while Mr Joyce is an IT professional from Ratoath.

The three amateurs took the swim in turns, each swimming for one hour in repeat cycles and had three paramedics on their crew in case they needed medical assistance while swimming through hugely dense congregations of toxic Lion's Mane jellyfish.

The group were motivated to attempt the world record in an effort to raise awareness of sea pollution.

Irish Independent

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