Cork woman swims English Channel


A Cork woman arrived back in her native city today after becoming the first Irish person to swim the English Channel over and back in one go, taking just over 35 hours to complete the challenge.

Lisa Cummins from Blackrock, Cork city, left Dover on the southeast coast of England shortly after 10.30am on Saturday and accompanied by a support boat she was back in England at 9.40pm yesterday, having made the journey to Cap Gris Nez in France and back.

Two years ago 26-year-old student Ms Cummins set herself two long-term goals – to complete a marathon and to swim across the English Channel and back between Dover and Cap Gris Nez.

She completed the Cork city marathon in 2007 but decided running wasn’t for her. Instead she focused completely on swimming and in early 2008 she booked the pilot boat that would guide her across the channel.

Ms Cummins, who is not a competitive swimmer, initially found swimming at sea very difficult but she continued her training with the assistance of coach Eilis Burns. Earlier this year she did a six-hour channel qualification swim in Malta.

The University College Cork student was resting today as she was completely drained by the challenge. However, her proud sister Amy Cummins said she was always confident Lisa would complete the swim.

“I knew she would do it. She was always into swimming but she never swam competitively. She put everything into it. She trained every single day for a year and a half. It is incredible what she has done. She is resting this morning because she is very sore. Her shoulder in particular is very sore. But she is in great spirits.”

The one thing Ms Cummins was worried about prior to the swim was the lack of sleep, as she knew she would be swimming for over a day. However, she was more concerned about not letting her designated charities down than failing to complete the challenge, which is known as “the swimmer’s Everest.”

Prior to the swim Ms Cummins posted a message on her blog saying that she was anxious but excited about the task ahead of her.

“All I have to think about is putting one arm in front of the other until I get back to where I started. I don’t think that I’ve really come to the realisation of what I’m doing yet. But I’m sure it will hit me when I’m still swimming after 20 hours. Or maybe it won’t and I’ll still be in denial when I’m done, who knows.”

Just 20 people worldwide have managed to complete the challenge that Ms Cummins undertook.