Belfast Telegraph

Plaque celebrates Moville to Portstewart swimming feats 80 years apart

By Aine McAuley

A plaque has been unveiled to mark the unique achievements of two long-distance swimmers.

Mercedes Gleitze swam from Moville in Co Donegal to the shores of Portstewart in 1929.

More than 80 years later, in 2016, Portstewart native Heather Clatworthy emulated her idol, and completed the 13-mile swim in just over four hours.

A plaque, erected by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, was unveiled near the shoreline at Berne harbour by Mercedes' children Fergus and Doloranda, and Heather yesterday. Heather Clatworthy now lives in England, but remains passionate about her seaside home town, and has set up a fund to support outdoor recreation activities in Portstewart.

Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Joan Baird, said: "I am delighted that the outstanding efforts of Mercedes and Heather have been marked in this way, and their story will now be known by the many people who walk along this beautiful part of our coastline.

"As the plaque tells us, on a clear day we can stand and look across to the lighthouse at Stroove in Donegal, which gives us an understanding of the achievements of these two remarkable women.

"It was an honour for me to welcome Heather and members of Mercedes' family to the unveiling event, and my thanks go to them for all their help and assistance."

Mercedes, a professional long-distance swimmer, completed her swim in August 1929 following a request from the town clerk of Portstewart at the time.

She was the first British woman to swim the English Channel. Her swimming achievements are marked with plaques around the world, and now Portstewart can be added to this trail.

The new plaque at Berne harbour is the latest addition to discovery points dotted right along the Causeway Coastal Route.

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