The Donegal coastline will form part of an escapade for a pair of adventurers who will this summer attempt to swim around the coast of Ireland.
Coleraine native David Burns and Maghnus Collins from Limerick, of Sand2Snow Adventures, are perhaps better known locally as the founders of ‘The Race’ - Ireland’s first 24-hour endurance event that is housed out of Gartan Outdoor Education Training Centre, which will undertake a third staging next March.
Burns, who used to spend his boyhood summers on Eighter Island, just off Burtonport, and Collins will take on the 1,600-kilometre swim around the entire island, starting on June 1 with their arrival in Donegal Bay estimated to take place on August 3.
The duo are veterans of some of the most ambitious man-powered expeditions ever undertaken by Irish people.
This summer’s conquest will mean they will attempt to be the first people to swim the entirety of the Irish coastline.
The scale of the task facing the Costcutter Swim 360 Team is evidenced by the fact, if successful, it would also be the longest verifiable swim ever completed in the Atlantic.
Swimming up to 12 hours per day in two six-hour shifts, Burns and Collins aim to complete the challenge in just 100 days taking advantage of the slightly warmer summer water temperatures.
“Many of the remaining challenges in man-powered adventuring will take place at sea and out of boats.” Burns said.
“Swimming as a means of covering long distances has been a largely unexplored field of human endurance and in attempting this circumnavigation we will be stepping somewhat into the unknown, this fact excites our whole team.”
On June 1 the Costcutter Swim 360 Team, which is completed by expedition lead Phillip Hatton and in-water support Leish McPartland, will begin the daunting expedition from Dublin, swimming clockwise and south along the east coast of Ireland.
Hyper-weight loss and the constant threat of hypothermia will be just two of the obstacles facing the team who aim to raise funds and awareness for their charity partners, the RNLI Lifeboats and Gorta Self Help Africa.
“Spending up to 12 hours in the water each day and through the night presents a significant issue in terms of maintaining a stable body temperature,” Collins said.
The two swimmers will be burning up to 7,000 calories per day and even with careful monitoring of calorific intake significant weight loss will be inevitable.
“Recent long distance open water swimming expeditions have experienced extraordinary difficulties with fat and muscle loss.
A recent expedition saw the swimmer lose in excess of 35 per cent of his body weight” Collins added.
In addition to the physical challenges the Costcutter Swim 360 expedition team will have to tackle the full strength of the Atlantic Ocean as they swim North along the west coast, at times up to 25 kilometres offshore.
“The success of this expedition will largely hinge on our ability to adapt to and deal with changeable weather and sea conditions, carefully balancing progress with safety,” Hatton said.
“‘Professionalism’ and ‘concentration’ are the buzzwords of the team who are now counting down the days until they pit themselves against the physical, mental and climactic battles that lay ahead on the waters surrounding this island.”
In Janaury 2013, Burns and Collins completed the ‘Silk Roads to Shanghai’, a mammoth unsupported 16,000km journey that had started in Istanbul almost 11 months beforehand.
They cycled to Kathmandu via Turkey, Iran, India and Nepal before trekking by foot over the Tibetan Plateau - completing 25 consecutive high altitude marathons in 26 days - to the source of the Yangtze River and by kayak onto Shanghai.
The Yangtze stretched was understood never to have been passed by kayak before.
In 2010, Burns and Collins completed the gruelling 250km Sahara Race over five days in temperatures that reached 44 celsius.
The year beforehand, 2009, they cycled to Ireland from Cape Town, South Africa. It was a journey of 17,500km that took 11 months to complete.
All three were completed for Self Help Africa, a charity that works with rural communities to help them improve their farms and their livelihoods.
“We are proud of our adventuring track record and believe it was built on careful planning and dogged persistence” added Burns of their latest escapade.
“This will be our single greatest physical test and will hopefully conclude with an Irish team, supported by an Irish company completing the last great endurance challenge on this island.”
Sand2Snow Adventures has raised in excess of €100,000 for charity.