Kildare swimmers ready for epic Channel charity swim

Raising funds for St Raphael's in Celbridge

Niamh O'Donoghue

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Niamh O'Donoghue

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Kildare swimmers ready for epic Channel charity swim

Mercedes and Martina at their qualifer swim in June

Two Naas residents are getting ready for an epic challenge to swim the Channel to raise funds for a wheelchair accessable car for St Raphael’s in Celbridge.  

Depending on the weather and sea conditions, the brother and sister duo, Ken and Mercedes Bagnall are aiming to set out on the Spring tide on Friday July 21.

Martina Ring from Rathcoole and Ruth Sloely make up the team with Ross Hubbard as crewman. Dubbed the Dover Clovers, the team will be overseen by Paul Foreman from the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation (CSPF) as pilot on his boat Optimist.

Ken and Mercedes have a personal connection with St. Raphaels.

“We are raising money towards a new wheelchair accessible car for Jenny Bags and her pals new home in Riverside which is part of St Raphael’s in Celbridge. Jen was brain damaged at birth and needs a lot of extra help with her day to day life and two of her siblings Mercedes and Ken are on the team swimming to raise money for Jen,” said the organisers.

Jen lives with six other adults and all of them require assistance getting around. Most of her housemates need a wheelchair, either all of the time, or some of the time.

A wheelchair accessible car would give them the freedom to go to doctors appointments, day programs and activities, visits to family and friends, therapy, shopping and all of the things people take for granted.

The team point out they currently have to depend on a bus, which is not always available and has broken down a lot, leaving these vulnerable adults stranded.  

“A car would make a real difference and it would mean the nurses could drive, which in turn means they don’t have to wait for a qualified bus driver to be available. This is something the team in Riverside have said they really need and it would make a real difference to Jen and her Pals lives,” the group added.

“Our relay team includes; the instigator, Ruth Sloely our amazing Aussie, who is flying all the way across the world to swim across a channel, the mighty ice swimmer, Martina Ring for whom the channel is a warm bath, Mercedes, (afraid of seaweed), and Ken, (will do it with one arm hanging off if need be), and Jen’s family.”

The team are funding the swim themselves so all the money raised goes directly for the car and Martina's charity, Friends of The Coombe.

Click here to donate.

The English Channel swim will cover at least 21 miles but the distance the team swim will depend on tides.

"More people have climbed Mount Everest than have swum across the English Channel. We will all swim in one hour rotations and have to stick to the Channel Swimming Association’s strict rules with an observer on board making sure we adhere," the team explained.

"We can only wear a standard swimsuit, one swim hat and goggles. The challenges are many including weather, tides, Jelly fish and for relay teams seasickness on the boat. Training has included night swims, cold water swims throughout the winter, hours and hours in the pool and we each had to complete a two hour qualifier swim in the sea in at temperatures between 14 and 16 degrees. The rewards are many more and we look forward to landing in France."

Follow the Kildare duo and their team live via the live tracker.