Sunday 25 August 2019

Waterford man on track be the first person to paddleboard around Ireland

Jim Swift is on track to be the first person to paddleboard around Ireland
Jim Swift is on track to be the first person to paddleboard around Ireland

Aoife Walsh

A Waterford man is on track to be the first person to paddleboard around Ireland, while also raising money for charity.

Jim 'Swifty' Swift, from Tramore, Co Waterford, is currently paddleboarding around Ireland in aid of Waterford Hospice. So far, his efforts have raised €13,900 for the charity.

Swift, who has already travelled over 1,600 kilometres, began his journey on June, 21, departing from Tramore. With only 50 kilometres left, Swift is hoping to reach Kilmore Quay in Co Wexford, across Waterford Harbour and back to Tramore Bay by tomorrow.

If successful, Swift will be the first person to paddleboard around Ireland.

Speaking about his journey, he said: “I’ve paddled with dolphins off Inisheer, I’ve seen Puffins on the Cliffs of Moher and seals at the Giants Causeway. It hasn’t been easy, though. I’ve visited all 17 coastal counties on the island of Ireland. And there have been problems to overcome: tidal streams, headwinds and sickness have all been challenging. But I’ve always stayed determined and now, my dream is coming true."

Swift spends an average of 10 hours per day in the water and camps by night, with occasional stays in local hostels.

Speaking to Independent.ie, his brother, Brian Swift said the great expedition has been a family effort, with Brian and his father, Declan taking turns to follow Swift on land throughout his journey.

"He travels between 40 to 50k a day, and he does it in two sessions. He uses Google Earth and he's got pins everywhere on it, and the pins tell him where he can stop. We meet him then and give him a bit of soup or something and he'll take an hour break before going out to do another 20k," Brian said.

He added that Swift keeps a mobile phone, cash, a compass, GPS with him to ensure he stays safe, as well as having meticulously pre-planned his trip. 

Swift is lucking forward to returning home to his wife, Meadhbh and young sons, Deicí (5) and Art (3), who are eagerly awaiting his safe arrival.

“I’m dying to see the wife and kids. Not sure they’ll recognize me, though. I’m a little skinnier and a lot more disheveled than before!" Swift said.

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