A NEW record for the Fastnet Swim has been set by an American.
At 9.55am last Friday, Andrew Packer set out to swim the 21km distance from the Fastnet Rock to Baltimore.
The swimmer, who is a member of the South End Rowing Club in San Francisco, was supported by Kieran Collins of Baltimore Angling and Wildlife Tours, who skippered the Radiance, with observer Noel Browne and support crew on board.
Andrew Packer started out very strongly and it was clear, early in the day, that he would topple the existing record of six hours and nine minutes. In the end, his time was an incredible five hours 27 minutes and four seconds.
But he wasn’t the only one facing the challenge – Northern Ireland’s John McKenna undertook the same swim 30 minutes later that same day.
John’s support boat was the Wave Chieftain skippered by Jerry Smith of Aquaventures with Nathan Timmins acting as observer and Sarah McKnight as support crew.
John completed the swim in an excellent time of seven hours 45 minutes and 49 seconds, on what was his second attempt at the swim.
There is a lot of international interest in the Fastnet Swim. According to Noel Browne, it has been recognised as one of the most amazing places to come and swim.
‘We are finding competitive swimmers are flocking here to complete it,’ said Noel, who said that part of its appeal is that it starts in the middle of the Atlantic at the iconic Fastnet Rock.
To date, 20 swimmers from all over the world have attempted it. Steve Redmond from Ballydehob has the distinction of being the first person to complete the 40km return swim from Baltimore to the Rock and he’s written about it in his book which has been published this week, Fastnet – the final challenge.