Athlone women set impressive record in lake swim for Lough Ree RNLI
Just before tea time yesterday (Wednesday 25 August) Serena Friel and Karen Reynolds swam under the Town Bridge in Athlone to complete an amazing 32km swim, the entire length of Lough Ree, in 10 hours and 13 minutes raising thousands of euro for Lough Ree RNLI by completing this daunting challenge.
Athlone women Serena and Karen enjoy a regular swim at Coosan Point in the shadow of the emerging Lough Ree RNLI boathouse which is due for completion next month. With a local community fund raising project ongoing the two swimmers decided to play their part and the ‘Lough Ree 32k Challenge’ was born.
After weeks of training, coaching and planning and with great oganisational support from work colleagues, family and friends the girls took to the water at 7am yesterday morning at Lanesborough Bridge at the north of Lough Ree on the Longford/Roscommon border.
Setting off in foggy conditions, Karen was first in the water for this relay swim. Herself and Serena alternated every hour on their way down the lake. The decision to delay the challenge a few days due to weather patterns proved very wise and the swimmers enjoyed excellent conditions on the water throughout the swim.
As the swim progressed the support crew on the accompanying boats realised that something special was on the cards. On board reports ticked off all the landmarks down the lake from Quaker Island on down towards Hare Island. In Athlone and on social media excitement began to mount when by mid-afternoon the swimmers had passed Hudson Bay.
Large crowds of well-wishers and supporters gathered on the quayside in Athlone, from the White Bridge to the Town Bridge in anticipation of their arrival. Just after 5pm accompanied by the Lough Ree RNLI volunteer crew on board the ‘Tara Scougall’ and the support flotilla, which had been alongside them all day, Serena Friel and Karen Delaney crossed the finish line in Athlone to loud applause.
In completing the ‘Lough Ree 32k Challenge’ the women set a record that will take some beating. Following the record breaking achievement Serena thanked ‘swimming partner Karen, coach David Warby and all who supported the challenge in any way.’
Lough Ree RNLI Operations Manager Jude Kilmartin, said: ‘The charity is most grateful to Serena and Karen for a terrific initiative which has already raised over €6,000 for the charity.’
The Gofundme page remains open for donations at https://gofund.me/199d3d04
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.