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Bog snorkelling champ is no stick in the mud

By John Mulgrew

A schoolgirl from Northern Ireland has been crowned Women's World Champion in one of the planet's muckiest sports.

Dineka Maguire is a 16-year-old girl from Co Fermanagh currently studying for her A-levels. But the country girl is no bog-trotter - instead she has a passion for the down and dirty sport of bog snorkelling.

Given that Fermanagh has its fair share of bogs and lakes, it's not surprising that she gravitated to the madcap sport.

After competing in the World Championship in Wales recently, the Belleek schoolgirl walked away with both the women's and junior titles, fending off rivals from as far afield as South Africa and Australia.

Essentially, bog snorkelling is a simple concept which pits competitors against each other in a watery trench, clad in snorkel and flippers.

The international championships were started 25 years ago after a group of eccentrics got together in a pub brainstorming session to find new methods of raising money for charity.

Our new world champ Dineka only began competing in the sport three years ago, after spending some time as a competitive swimmer. "One of the teachers at my old school said 'you should do this' - I was adamant that I shouldn't, but I came round.

That was three years ago," she said.

"Basically, it's a five foot deep, four foot wide bog that's 60 yards long. You must complete two lengths - no swimming strokes, just doggy paddles, or you can grab the peat to drag you along."

Dineka, who is currently a pupil at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, said the alternative sport was a conversation starter.

"It's something you can get talking to people about."

She said she didn't get all girly about the dirt.

"The muck doesn't really bother me, I mean it's pretty much a hole in a bog, so it's expected."

According to Dineka, those wishing to get mucky for the glory of a world championship will have to travel to the most remote areas in the UK and Ireland to compete.

Those getting the urge can get mucked to the eyeballs tomorrow at Doohamlet in Co Monaghan during the third Irish Bog Snorkelling event.

Background

Bog snorkelling is a sport which consists of competitors swimming two lengths of a boggy water trench which cuts through a peat bog. Those competing are required to wear a snorkel and flippers - completing the course without using conventional swimming strokes. The World Bog Snorkelling Championship, first held in 1985, takes place annually near Llanwrtyd Wells in mid Wales.

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