| 15.6°C Belfast

Lough Neagh swimmers make a big splash in pop-up garden pools by holding 28km charity fundraiser

Close

Lesley Glenn, who came up with the idea of the 28km relay swim in garden pools

Lesley Glenn, who came up with the idea of the 28km relay swim in garden pools

Stephanie Lyness swimming in her garden pool

Stephanie Lyness swimming in her garden pool

Lesley Glenn, who came up with the idea of the 28km relay swim in garden pools

A group of hardy open water swimmers are proving that anything is possible during lockdown.

The group, who are all members of the Lough Neagh Monster Dunkers, have bought pop-up pools so that they can continue to swim in their own back gardens.

Just this week eight of them completed a relay swim of the 28km length of Lough Neagh in their backyards to raise funds to support work to help the vulnerable in their local community in Lurgan.

Calling themselves 'The Tethered Swimmers', the group has created the swimming pool equivalent of a treadmill in their gardens by tying a rope around them, allowing them to swim on the spot.

Each of them swam 3.1km in a relay as part of their 'Lough-Down Swim' to raise funds for Lurgan Community Aid, a group of volunteers distributing food packages to the vulnerable.

Close

Stephanie Lyness swimming in her garden pool

Stephanie Lyness swimming in her garden pool

Stephanie Lyness swimming in her garden pool

Stephanie Lyness (57), a bookkeeper and mum-of-two from Waringstown, said: "We would dunk in Lough Neagh every Saturday and Sunday, 12 months of the year in all weathers.

"The group is about promoting good mental health and the camaraderie and craic is brilliant.

"You get a real buzz out of being in the cold water and we are all missing it so much.

"A few of us have bought pools so that we can continue to swim during lockdown in our gardens.

"My pool is 13ft by 7ft and I am out in it every day and it has kept me sane."

With limited room, the team came up with the idea of tethering themselves with a rope tied to a tree in their gardens so that they can swim on the spot.

Stephanie said: "One of our members, Lesley Glenn, had the idea of the 'Lough-Down' swim to raise funds and nine of us have taken part.

"We worked out that 20 minutes swimming is the equivalent of covering 1km, so with three 20 minute swims we each covered 3km."

Initially the girls set a target of £500 but within just a couple of days their gofundme total reached over £1,500 and is still climbing.

Lesley, a school teacher, said: "After reading about all the generous people of Northern Ireland doing fabulous feats and fundraising for charities here and abroad, I wondered if our group would like to do a fundraising swim for the Lurgan Area Community Aid, which some of us are already supporting.

"Eight swimmers of varying experience decided to give it a go.

"We launched our campaign to start on May 20 and took several video clips each, posting them on Facebook to boost our fundraising efforts to reach £500.

"Over the past weekend we were thrilled to see the target met and so we raised the goal to £1,000 and then as donations kept coming in, we raised it again to £1,500.

"It's such a great feeling to do something you love to help people.

"The whole team has really enjoyed the camaraderie and being able to help a local group to continue to deliver food parcels and support to those who need it in our area."

If you would like to support the effort go to gofundme.com/f/the-loughdown-swim

Belfast Telegraph