Article from Glasgow Herald

29 08 2012

Swimmer reveals delight at beating icy seas

Reporter
 

A SOUTH African man has told of his delight at being back on dry land after battling through a gruelling 12-hour swim to become the first person to cross a treacherous stretch of the North Channel.

 
 

Wayne Soutter said he was thrilled to have completed the mammoth task after facing stinging jellyfish, bone-chilling water, gripping currents and large waves.

The 43-year-old, who is raising money for the Community Rescue Service, swam about 12 miles from the southwest tip of the Mull of Kintyre to Kenbane Head in Country Antrim, Northern Ireland.

It is a route many endurance swimmers have failed to conquer and the married father-of-two said he was overcome with relief as he finally stepped ashore at around 11.30pm on Sunday.

Mr Soutter said: “When I eventually reached the shore it was just relief that the swim was over. It wasn’t elation at all, I was just glad it was finished.

“But when I started getting warmer again and felt a little bit better, the enormity of what I had achieved started to hit home.

“I’m just thrilled to prove that it’s doable and I’m sure there will be a number of swimmers now keen to give it a go.”

The computer software boss, who now lives in London, said he was ready to give up just five hours into the challenging swim, but his support team kept him going.

He said: “About five hours in I told the team on the boat that I wanted out, but they talked me into continuing for half an hour.

“They said, ‘Just do another half hour and we’ll let you know how far away we are,’ and then after that they said, ‘Just do another half hour and then we’ll see.’

“They kept telling me how well I was doing and hung a carrot out in front of me all the way across the channel.”

As Mr Soutter set off from the Mull of Kintyre, he was covered head to toe in grease in a bid to keep warm.

He was then given hot water to drink every half hour throughout the challenge to keep his temperature up and was fed either a banana or porridge every hour and a half.

The swimmer said his two biggest challenges throughout the journey were jellyfish and the piercingly cold water temperatures.

He added: “There were two things that caused problems.

“One was the jellyfish – I’ve never been stung by them before so I was really worried about it, but once I was stung a few times it was something I realised I could tolerate. My arms and chest, and even my mouth were covered in stings.

“The second thing was the cold, I was just so cold, chilled to my core. It was such an awful feeling.”

Mr Soutter has raised around £5000 for the Community Rescue Service, a search, rescue and recovery charity. This will be used to buy a 4×4 vehicle.

In 2010, the businessman also swam across the English Channel, raising £3000 for Sparrow Schools Educational Trust in South Africa.

However, asked if he had plans for any further endurance swims, he replied: “I might consider taking on another challenge, but I’m not brave enough to tell my wife that yet.”

 
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