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January 16 2021

Causeway Coast

Charity AWARE NI

Swim Distance 2.48km

THANK YOU FOR CONTINUALLY SHARING AND DONATING. Donations now over the £4,000 mark!

Al Mennie Swim Through Darkness. Picture by Leigh Hawthorne

The tiny little crescent moon and the blanket of stars didn’t stand much chance against the thick black clouds sweeping in from the west. The slight tinge of blue left on the horizon after sunset was engulfed by a venomous cloud spitting hail and sleet as it charged towards the coast. The surf wild and unruly, the vast amounts of white water swamped by the darkness.

Overnight the coast was hammered with 35mph gusts from the south west and torrential rain. The aftermath meant that tonight the waterfalls and the streams were clambering over anything in their way as they rushed towards the Atlantic.

Although all these elements combined can mean a chaotic sea, experience tells me this is in fact a window of opportunity. You see, sometimes there are lots of elements impacting the water that I intend to swim through but none of those elements are stronger than the other. That results in weak, mediocre surf, half hearted currents and a very unpredictable and difficult surf zone to navigate. Tonight that was not the case. All the elements were on fire, raging and roaring. That combined energy is predictable. Unlike the calm, mysterious waters that rarely show their hand until it’s too late, the wild passionate chaos wears its heart on its sleeve and its next move is often more predictable than that of its less emotional counter part.

Tonight my route was constrained by the heavy flow of a stream bursting wider than normal to the west. Two rocks also lay in the surf zone due to the tide level. There was virtually no light. Even the artificial light from nearby villages that often shimmers on the wet sand was obscured by the heavy cloud. I swam three different swims along the same stretch and on my third I used a big surge to slip by one of the rocks we refer to as the "Alligator" (not to be mistaken for the Castlerock Crocodile). If you look at the charts below you can clearly see how much surf there was. Some big surges pushed me in and drew me out particularly in the first swim. Often a wave of white water would surge over me and as I surfaced a second hump of water was chasing it ashore. Approaching the 45km mark now, all being well we can break 50km in the coming days.

Thank you for reading this far! Please if you have a few spare quid use it to help the charity AWARE NI via the link here.... A massive thank you to the few of you who have donated so far! I cant reply to you on the justgiving site but know that your words and the money for charity are greatly appreciated. I know how hard it is for everyone at the minute and to find something to donate is a great and kind thing thank you!

Swim One

Swim Two

Swim Three

Info - I am swimming a total of 100km through the darkness, in the darkest and coldest months of the year off the North Coast of Ireland. My inspire those who may be struggling in dark times to keep going. I also aim to raise awareness and funds for the depression Charity Aware NI. We all face dark times in life at some point and it can be extremely overwhelming.

Safety - Please don't think that because I am doing this that you too should do this or something similar. I am very experienced in the sea with knowledge that is only gained through many years of exposure to the sea in all her moods. I have a safety and location system in place including continual contact with people on land every time I swim.


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