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Swimmers suit up for Channel crossing

A total of 13 Irish swimmers have signed up for English Channel attempts over the summer months.

First out for his week-long "window" will be Garth Long from Cobh whose projected swim date is July 19, when the waters could still be quite chilly.

He will be followed by Jennifer Hurley from Cork on August 1, Danny Walsh from Cork on August 16, Offaly swimmer Enda Kennedy on August 17, Alan Smith from Waterford on August 26, and Rob Bohane, Ciaran Byrne, Breccane Ellis and Liam Maher on August 30.

Dubliner John Kenny has booked September 1, with fellow Dubliner John Ward due to start his swim a day later. John Daly, also from Dublin, sets off on September 14 followed by Gabor Molnar from Cork on September 29 -- one of the latest dates possible. A further five are already booked for 2011.

At a distance of 21 miles, the swim across the world's busiest ferry and shipping lanes is something of a Holy Grail for long-distance swimmers.

Since Michael Kelly from Dublin was the first swimmer from the Republic to make it in 1992, just shy of 50 Irish-based swimmers have now added their names to the list of Channel swimmers.

In 2008, Ireland was third behind only Britain and the USA on the list of successful swims. Last year, a record 10 Irish-based swimmers made the journey. Among them was Julianne Galloway, whose time of 9 hours and 51 minutes was a new Irish women's record as well as the fastest women's time of the season. Owen O'Keefe, aged 16, became the youngest Irish swimmer to make it in an excellent time of 10 hours 19 minutes. Clearly Conor Gunn's Irish record of 9 hours 11 minutes from 1994 is under threat.

Lisa Cummins from Cork became the first Irish swimmer to do the double -- swimming over to France and back. It took her a mammoth 35 hours. Rumour has it that another Irish swimmer will go for the "double" this summer.

In addition, Anne-Marie Ward from Co Donegal is preparing to attempt the North Channel. The channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland is slightly shorter than the English Channel, but colder and infested with jellyfish. Only nine swimmers have ever made it.