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The Dál Raita Channel is the narrowest part of the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Scotland. The water is often rough, it is always cold and swimmers face tough conditions. For years it was considered impossible to swim across at this point. On 29 June, Sabrina Wiedmer became the first woman and second person to cross the Dál Raita Channel, in a time of 8 hours 30 minutes

It all started when I signed up to a swim camp with Infinity Channel Swimming in Riomaggiore in Italy. After a tough day’s training, while eating a nice meal and having a glass of red, Pádraig Mallon asked me a simple question: “Sabrina, do you want to swim the Dál Riata Channel?

” Without further questions from my side (and without considering possible consequences of my answer), I replied the way most swimmers would: “Of course I do!” A handshake and the deal was made.

It was only the day after when I realised what I’d decided to do and that I now had to get off my lazy bum and start serious training again. But that’s how I function and, with a goal ahead, planning the training and actually getting into the water was much easier. I started preparing the most ridiculous sets for the pool, chasing a mileage of 35-55km per week. Since I suffer from a li¤le ‘problem’ called Swim OCD, my plans were fairly simple. Trying to do 100x400m in four days forces you to spend a good few hours in the water, and I ended up swimming closer to 50km (because every metre I swam which was not in a 400m block didn’t count). Another fun one was to ask a friend for a random order of the numbers one to nine and these would be the number of kilometres I had to swim per session. Alterations resulted in restarting the whole thing from day one, obviously. Another 45km week done. Spending so much time swimming, gave me time to plan the next week’s training!

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About Outdoor Swimmer

In this issue we explore wild swimming in Scandinavia, where the right to roam extends to swimming outdoors – in some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery. We also bring you reports from some our favourite events of the summer – more swims for you to add to your bucket list! We hear from Howard James and Sabrina Wiedmer about their record breaking swims – the earliest (and coldest) English Channel crossing and the first woman to cross the Dál Raita Channel, respectively. And if that all sounds a bit too hardcore and serious, Dan Abel shows us how to keep our swimming fun. Enjoy the magazine and happy swimming.