BY JACKIE KEOGH and SIOBHÁN CRONIN
LAST Saturday week was a day for swimming in West Cork.
While some were undertaking triathlons and charity swims in Tragumna, Steve Redmond was attemping his Baltimore-to-Fastnet-and-back challenge, while two men from Bantry undertook another mammoth task: swimming from Bere Island to Whiddy.
Despite the near-perfect conditions earlier, Ballydehob’s Seven Oceans swimmer Steve Redmond had to surrender to the elements on his return from the Fastnet Rock after an incredible 11 hours in the water.
But he has vowed that his defeat by the elements is ‘just a setback’ and that in the coming weeks he is going to complete the crossing that has never been done before.
‘If we’d started at 4am instead of 4.45am on Saturday morning we probably would have finished the swim,’ said Steve, who described the early hours of the inky blackness as magnificent ‘like something out of Space Odyssey’.
Steve has put three months of training into the fundraiser for the West Cork Underwater Search and Rescue group, an organisation that is looking to raise money for life-saving equipment.
According to his own schedule, Steve made it to the Fastnet ‘on time’ at noon on Saturday, but at 3.45pm – 11km from shore – Steve knew he had to stop.
The wind had come up, causing him to swallow too much water and it was causing his stomach to cramp. And, despite a pleasant interlude with a pod of dolphins that swam alongside, he was also plagued by jellyfish.
Afterwards, he said: ‘I felt pretty beaten up,’ but, like his team, he is already gearing up for the next attempt.
Meanwhile, brothers Merlin and Eli Tanner had undertaken the 17km swim from Bere Island to Whiddy Island in Bantry Bay – completing it in under eight hours – a task they believe they may be the first to complete.
The swimming fanatics challenged themselves in aid of two charities close to their hearts – Bantry Hospice and Bantry Arc cancer support centre.