WEST Cork’s living legend and Oceans Seven long-distance cold water swimmer Steve Redmond has done it again – this time with his record-breaking swim from Baltimore to the Fastnet Rock, and back again.
Ballydehob-based Steve was the first person in the world to complete the Ocean’s Seven Challenge, which is the equivalent of climbing the highest mountains on each of the seven continents, but in the water.
He is now the first person to swim the 40km from Baltimore harbour to the Fastnet and back.
Speaking to The Southern Star, an extremely tired and emotional Steve said that his 15 hours and 35 minutes in the water was ‘tough, very tough’ but that there was no way he was giving up despite 20 jellyfish stings.
Setting off at 4am on Monday last, Steve was joined by his boat support crew led by skipper Kieran Collins, Noel Browne, wife Ann, daughter Siadbh and Jacinta Ní Luanai, and also by a pod of 20 minke whales, as well as some inquisitive humpback whales and numerous blue sharks.
However, it wasn’t the circling sharks that were on Steve’s mind, it was the ever-present jellyfish that had him concerned as he steadily made his was towards the iconic lighthouse.
‘I have wanted to do this for a while now and it has been four years of hard work but I would never have been able to complete the swim without the support of my family, and with Kieran and Noel on the boat.’
Steve described the swim as one of the toughest he has ever endured. ‘This is a world class swim and we are extremely lucky to have this on our doorstep,’ he said.
‘We have already received messages from other swimmers who are planning on coming down to Baltimore to attempt the swim, and I know that many of them will have no trouble. I’m a dinosaur compared to some of these lads!’
One of those on the boat on Monday morning was his longtime swimming ally Noel Browne.
‘What Steve has achieved is an incredible feat of stamina, endurance and mental strength,’ Noel said. ‘It’s difficult enough getting to the Fastnet on a boat, but Steve just kept going and going, and we could see that there was no way he was going to give in.’
Noel got into the water to keep his friend company as he started his swim back to Baltimore from the lighthouse.
‘We’ve been watching the weather conditions for the last few days and especially the water temperatures,’ Noel said.
‘We were looking for around the 14 degree mark and as we set off from Baltimore the water was just over 11 degrees,’ explained Noel.
‘When I got into the water with Steve the water was at eight degrees. I lasted just one hour before I had to get out, Steve did over 15 hours!’
Steve says he is ‘sore and tired’ but elated after his record-breaking feat. ‘I have all the usual aches and pains, but my knees and hands are really sore, which is a first for me,’ Steve said. So, is Steve hanging up his hat, goggles and well-worn togs now?
‘While you should never say never again,’ he replied, ‘my wife is here next to me so, I’ll just say that I’m looking forward to getting back to the baseball season!’