Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Charity swim stars battle jellyfish

Singer Ronan Keating starts The Swim, a fundraising swim across the Irish Sea in aid of Cancer Research UK

Five celebrities have told of their battles with giant jellyfish while swimming the Irish Sea in a marathon fundraising effort.

The charity relay for Cancer Research UK sees the famous names, led by boyband idol Ronan Keating, swim the 56 nautical miles (65 land miles) from Holyhead in Anglesey, North Wales, to Dublin.

Keating, 34, was first off the slipway in his wet suit and flippers at around 9pm on Tuesday night, followed by TV presenter Jenny Frost, who then handed over to Strictly Come Dancing star Pamela Stephenson. Gadget Show host Jason Bradbury and Olympic medallist swimmer Steve Parry are also taking part.

The team is following the sea's tidal pattern and currently heading north after swimming for about 21 nautical miles in a south-westerly direction.

Speaking during a break, Keating said he was mostly spending his hour-long stints swallowing sea water and avoiding "alien-like" jellyfish.

"I'm not one of the advanced swimmers so I'm concentrating on my swimming, my breathing and keeping my body moving," he added.

The celebrities are being helped by five 'super swimmers' and while at sea each member of the relay is expected to swim for one hour until arriving in Dublin after an estimated 40 hours.

Frost, 33, said: "I went in at about 7am and it was lovely in the water but there were lots of jellyfish so it was quite scary. They are huge, like a cross between a nuclear bomb and aliens.

"When you come face to face with one, you just feel so vulnerable and so minuscule. It's quite a humbling experience."

Keating came up with the idea with Sir Richard Branson, who was also due to take part in the relay but pulled out at the weekend after his Caribbean home on Necker Island burned to the ground. They hope to raise more than £1 million for Cancer Research.

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