A SWIMMER who was reported missing while swimming on the Ilen River between Skibbereen and Baltimore on Tuesday of last week was found safe and well and unaware that a rescue operation had been put in place to locate him.
Paul Schilling had been swimming from Skibbereen to Baltimore when the safety kayak accompanying him lost visual contact during a squall on the river, north of Inishbeg.
‘When the safety boat went to look for him, the kayaker couldn’t see him and got concerned, so he rang the Coast Guard for assistance,’ Kieran Cotter, the coxswain of Baltimore Lifeboat, told The Southern Star.
‘The thing is that Paul is a powerful swimmer and maybe the other man miscalculated how far Paul had gone and then couldn’t see him.’
The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat following a request from the Irish Coast Guard at 9:42am and they proceeded to the last known location of Paul, searching up the river from Baltimore towards that point.
Assisting in the search was the Coast Guard rescue helicopter 115 along with Toe Head Coast Guard and An Garda Siochána.
At 10:31am the Baltimore all-weather lifeboat – with Kieran Cotter and other crew on board – was requested to join the search.
Shortly after launching, the lifeboat deployed their smaller y-boat with crew members Aidan Bushe and Sean McCarthy on board, in order to search the narrower channels in the river.
‘Paul was probably swimming behind an island when we passed him, but he made his own way into Baltimore Harbour and it was only when another boat was heading out to look for him that he became aware of what was going on,’ said Kieran.
‘It all ended well and I didn’t have any fear as I know he’s a powerful swimmer,’ he added.
At 11.10am Mizen Head Coast Guard informed all rescue agencies that Paul had made his way safely to shore and all services were stood down.