Kildare brother and sister duo complete epic Channel swim in 14 hrs 8 minutes to raise funds for St Raphaels

'Tired and proud'

Niamh O'Donoghue


Niamh O'Donoghue


Kildare brother and sister duo complete epic Channel swim in 14 hrs 8 minutes to raise funds for St Raphaels

The Dover Clovers arrive in France

Naas residents, Mercedes and Ken Bagnall swam the English Channel yesterday along with their two team mates to raise funds for St Raphael's in Celbridge.

"Delighted to say we did it, we completed our swim accross the English Channel yesterday in an as yet unratified time of 14hrs 8 minutes. It was tough and have so much respect for the soloists. Our pilot Paul Foreman and his crew, Jason and Graham were so good at what they do and supported us all the way," said Mercedes, who signed off as 'tired and proud'.

This is the second year The Dover Clovers have undertaken this daunting challenge. However last year's attempt was scuppered by bad weather and they never got to complete the swim. Martina Ring from Rathcoole and Ruth Sloely are also on the team.

This year, the team had been due to undertake the swim over the weekend June 29 to July 2 but the sea conditions weren't suitable. A window opened up yesterday and the four swimmers set out.

“We are raising money for Rowandale day centre for Adults in St Raphaels in Celbridge. We managed to buy Riverside, (one of the residential homes), a wheelchair accessible car last year which was great. This year we want to try to improve the day to day lives of the adults who are looked after there,” Mercedes previously told the Leader.

SEE ALSO: Kildare parenting column: A new world ahead as my son graduates from Naíonra

Ken and Mercedes have a personal connection with St. Raphaels as their sister Jenny uses the services at the Celbridge facility. The team are funding the swim themselves so all the money raised goes directly to St Raphaels.

"This year we are going to give our money to Rowandale the unit in St Raphaels that provides services for Jen and many other adults including therapy, swimming, music therapy, story telling and a place for friends to enjoy each others company and be given a sense of purpose. Funds have been severely cut and it's simply not fair, so help us support the teams that inject a bit of fun and a sense of purpose into some very special peoples lives," said the team.

The team swam in one hour rotations and had to stick to the Channel Swimming Association’s strict rules with an observer on board making sure they adhere.

The swimmers can only wear a standard swimsuit, one swim hat and goggles. The challenges were many including weather, tides, jelly fish and for relay teams seasickness on the boat.

Click here to donate.