The first person to ever swim a notorious stretch of water between Scotland and the Antrim coast has been hailed as ‘Superman'.
Wayne Soutter is more used to surfing the net in his day-to-day life as boss of a computer firm. But on Sunday he conquered the treacherous sea between the Mull of Kintyre and Kenbane Head in Co Antrim.
The South African, who lives and works in London, spent more than 12 gruelling hours in the chilly sea battling monstrous waves, unpredictable currents and sting-happy jellyfish.
Yesterday, a special reception was held in his honour at Ballycastle where he was presented with a plaque from Moyle District Council. Guests included representatives of the Community Rescue Service for which Wayne was fundraising.
Wayne (43) was beaming with pride as he spoke of the teamwork that helped him triumph.
“People think channel swimming is a solo sport but it is the most unsolo sport you can do,” he said.
“You can't do it without a body of people in the boat supporting you all the way.
“When I was in the water I felt so isolated. You can't see anything so you hand over everything to the people on the boat.
“You put your entire trust in those people and it was wonderful to have had an incredible team behind me.
“The people of Ballycastle have opened their arms to me and I've loved the whole experience.’’
Sean McCarry, of the Community Rescue Service, described Wayne's efforts as “super-human”.
“I have heard Wayne described a few times already as Superman and I'm amazed he is even walking today after that,” he said. “You had to be out there to see how bad it was with the waves and that and he made friends with some jellyfish along the way.”
Gerard McIlroy, from Ballycastle Community Rescue, said the money raised from the swim will be invaluable to sustaining the charity which specialises in inland rescues.
“It was a long, tough day for Wayne,” he said.
“He came to us beforehand and said he wanted to raise money for the good work we do.
“The funding this will bring in will be a lifeline for the service.’’
Chair of Moyle council, Sandra Hunter, told Wayne the council was “overwhelmed” by what he had achieved by his “tremendous effort”.
Wayne set off from the Mull of Kintyre at 11.19am on Sunday, arriving at Kenbane Head near Ballycastle at around 11.30pm.
“I thought it was interesting to try something that had never been done,” he said. “I was not afraid before the swim, but about halfway through I really started getting quite scared.
“The tides and the winds were ferocious, there were times the boat was spinning in 180 degree circles.”
He said he struggled with the cold. “When you get cold, you get depressed and it was so hard.
“At one point I was feeling so down, the only way to feel better was to swim harder.
“There were times I was in a field of jellyfish, everywhere I looked there were jellyfish.”
“I just had to put my head down and swim through them. It was awful.”
South African Wayne Soutter was not only the first person to ever swim from the Mull of Kintyre to the north coast — he's the first to ever attempt it. The stretch is approximately 10.5 miles and is renowned for unpredictable tides, towering waves and jellyfish. Wayne decided to attempt the challenge for the Community Rescue Service despite describing himself as an average swimmer. He completed it on Sunday in just over 12 hours and was given a special reception at Moyle District Council yesterday.