DONAGHADEE’S para-ice swimmer Nicola Doran has completed her second marathon swim in just two weeks.
Not content to rest on her success, Nicola returned to the North Down coastline to complete the 11.1km swim from Bangor to Donaghadee in the impressive time of three hours and 54 minutes.
Just a fortnight ago, this intrepid swimmer clocked up a 10.4km swim marathon feat when she swam from Holywood to Bangor in just under three hours.
The swimmer, who battles constant pain after a debilitating accident, represented Ireland at this year’s IISA Ice Swimming World Championships in Samoens, France.
Scooping three gold and two silver medals Nicola is the first female para swimmer in the world to achieve a Category Three Ice Mile in Worthersee Lake, Austria.
Ice swimming involves braving temperatures below five degrees. During her latest swim, Nicola was accompanied by a seal for part of her challenge.
To comply with the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association rules Nicola swam in a swimsuit, with a swim cap and goggles as neoprene rubber is not permitted.
Speaking about her latest triumph, Nicola said: “I wanted to continue my journey swimming the coast of Ards and North Down. I knew this swim would be challenging as Belfast Lough opens up towards the North Channel and Irish Sea.
“The northerly wind during the swim made the sea rougher on the day. Swimming through and over each wave slows you down and takes a toll on your strength. Turning south east at Orlock helped but the wind and current kept pushing me towards the shore.
“I was delighted when I could finally turn in and see the sand of Donaghadee harbour underneath me. I stood and made my way out of the water right into the middle of filming an episode of Hope Street.”
Once again on this swim, to comply with the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association rules, Nicola was accompanied by her boat crew, pilot and observer Kiera and Stephen Hanson.
Kiera said any wind from the north will pick up a swell which will start to crest as the force increases.
“The swim had been timed to take advantage of the currents but we knew that around Ballymacormick Point and the section from the Briggs Rocks on past Orlock would be tricky to swim that day,” said Kiera.
Stephen’s role was to record all the information that the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association needed to ratify the swim and to support Nicola’s welfare.
He said: “Choppy water is very disorientating when your eyes are above the surface for only a moment as you breathe and sight. To keep going through that hour after hour takes great physical and mental strength. Nicola battled the conditions from beginning to end and emerged tired but euphoric at Donaghadee.”
Already looking forward to her next challenge, Nicola said: “With the encouragement of my coach, Ger Kennedy, I’ve just done the six hour group swim in Carlingford Lough and will aim to complete other long swims.
“Locally I want to swim different spots along our coast, though perhaps not all as marathon swims. I am raising funds for Riding for the Disabled, Causeway Coast and Glens a fantastic charity dear to me. I also want to encourage people with disabilities to try swimming, it has made such a difference for me.”