A Lurgan man is putting himself to the ultimate test by swimming the circumnavigation of Lough Neagh in aid of charity.
Francie McAlinden, Global Swim Series Champion Male Wetsuit 2018/2019 and Male Skins 2019/2020, started his five day challenge on Monday and will cross the finish line tomorrow (Friday).
In what is Francie’s biggest challenge to date, the Lurgan Masters and Open Water Swimming Club member is hoping to swim a total distance of 100k over five consecutive days.
The feat – which has never been done before – is in aid of raising for the Make a Wish Foundation to help several other families whose children also suffer from a heart condition similar to little Orán.
Orán Creaney, who was Francie’s grandson, sadly passed away after suffering a heart condition and Francie was determined to set a major challenge across the often treacherous Lough Neagh.
Francie, who has helped to run and organise many events for his club, has completed over 75km of the challenge at the time of this article going live.
His coach and safety cover for the week, Catherine Hanraty, spoke to Your Lurgan to outline the severity of his achievement.
“This has never been attempted before,” she stated.
“By the end the total distance he will have swum around 95-100km over five consecutive days.
“This is as much a mental challenge as a physical one since each day consists of a marathon swim distance.
“This has been two years in the planning and we just didn’t get the weather window last year, so he had to stay focused over two lockdowns with no pool access and train all winter in the Lough with no wetsuit.
“He’s currently approaching 75km into Rams Island. He has not dropped a stroke, his determination and fortitude are truly inspirational, and most of all, he is very a humble man.”
Francie has set a fundraising target of £3,000 and he is well on his way as over £2,000 has been pledged so far.
All donations welcome for Make-A-Wish at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lap4oran
You can keep up-to-date with Francie’s progress on the ‘Lurgan Masters and Open Water Swimming Club’ Facebook page.