Belfast Telegraph

Swimmer battles tide in hope of being first to conquer gruelling stretch

By Chris Kilpatrick

He describes himself as merely an average swimmer — but last night Wayne Soutter was agonisingly close to becoming the first person to conquer a notorious stretch of water between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Wayne was within touching distance of completing the gruelling swim between The Mull of Kintyre and north Antrim — although success was by no means certain.

The 10.5-mile swim has never been successfully attempted before and is infamous for its unpredictable currents, chilly seas and jellyfish.

The 43-year-old, originally from South Africa but currently living and working in London, was being roared home to the Co Antrim shoreline late last night.

The father-of-two, who heads up a computer software company, had been tested to the limit by heavy swells before strong tides carried him towards Ballycastle.

A support team was sailing alongside Wayne throughout yesterday, and described him as “swimming like a demon”.

At 10pm, they said Wayne had just 0.9 nautical miles to go — but 50 minutes later he appeared to have been pulled further out by a strong current.

“It will be a constant battle to punch through the tide enough to make dry land,” said a spokesman.

Ahead of yesterday’s swim, Wayne told the Belfast Telegraph that he was confident of completing the challenge, having undertaken a recent warm-up attempt in the sea off the north coast.

“The water was good for a fairly calm day, but sometimes we got into a bit of rough water and that made hard work of it. Overall it was good — I'm encouraged.”

Back in 2010, Wayne was the 813th person to swim across the Channel, raising £3,000 for a South Africa schools charity and he now hopes to raise £5,000 for local Community Rescue Services.

Belfast Telegraph

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