| 14.9°C Dublin

Ronan survives first leg of epic swim

BOYZONE star Ronan Keating has survived the first leg of his daring swim from the UK to Ireland.

The singer plunged into the chilly Irish Sea last night as part of a charity relay for Cancer Research UK.

Ronan (34) is one of five famous names taking part in the 56-nautical-mile swim from Holyhead in north Wales to Dublin.

TV presenter Jenny Frost, Strictly star Pamela Stephenson, gadget guru Jason Bradbury and Olympic medallist Steve Parry are the other big names.

The Irishman completed his first stint in the water around midnight, saying: "Incredible turn out for us all in Holyhead, quite overwhelming.

"But glad I'm out of water."

He said there was "time for a quick snooze before I'm back in the sea again".

Organisers say that the team of five will tackle treacherous currents, ferries and even sharks in a bid to raise £1m (¤1.1m).

The team, supported by five 'super swimmers' had been due to set off at around lunchtime today, but favourable weather led organisers to bring the event forward by 15 hours.

As darkness fell at 9pm, hundreds of people clapped and cheered at the little harbour at Holyhead Sailing Club as Ronan, wearing a black wet suit, pink swimming cap and flippers, made the sign of the cross and took his first steps into the water.

He swam freestyle, weaving his way through the boats moored in the harbour.

Temperatures in the sea over the next few days are expected to be a "mild" 12-14C.

But while the weather appears to be favouring the swimmers, other potential dangers lurk in the deep.

At least 30 species of shark are known to pass through the Irish Sea, including the enormous basking shark, the world's second largest fish.

The world's largest species of jellyfish, the Lion's Mane, is also often spotted.

To follow the progress of the swim, visit www.the-swim.co.uk