North Channel

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North Channel as defined by the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association for the purposes of channel swimming and defined by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office's Admiralty Chart 2198 North Channel Southern Part
ILDSA observer Andrew Coyle, escort pilot Quinton Nelson, Milko van Gool, and Irish Long Distance Swimming Association President Billy Wallace after van Gool's record-setting North Channel crossing on 30 July 2013
noun - North Channel (or NC) is a notoriously difficult body of water between Ireland and Scotland that is considered to be the ultimate in difficult channel swimming.



A North Channel Swim will only be recognised when the start and finish is within the area defined by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office's Admiralty Chart 2198 North Channel Southern Part. According to the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association, no other route or course is recognised as a North Channel Swim.

It is a distance of 34.5 km (21.4 miles). It is known of fickle weather, rough seas, tough currents and an abundance of jellyfish. Sometimes referred to as the Irish Channel. The North Channel is one of the channels in the Oceans Seven. Its swims, often done in 10.5-14°C (50-54ºF) water, are sanctioned and certified by the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association.

The Dál Riata Channel Swim, previously known as the Mull of Kintyre Swim, is a newer and shorter 17 km (10.5-mile) course between Scotland and Northern Ireland that was pioneered by Wayne Soutter from Mull of Kintyre in Scotland to Ballycastle in Northern Ireland in 2012.

Historical Information

In history, the first successful crossing was in 1947 by Tom Blower...and few others have followed. There were quite a number of unsuccessful attempts in both directions. Nuala Moore explains, " is a body of water that requires the utmost of respect. Above both Scotland and Ireland, there are thousands of miles of sea, all raging and wanting to run south and north. When this water tries to squeeze between the two countries, the limited space forces the water to act very erratically. As the water runs through islands and in and out of headlands and bays, it goes every direction. Therefore, to a swimmer, there is no definite system of movement. The air temperature in the summer in the north is often 12-18°C – so this would be a negative on the skin as well. The tides running through Rathlin Island work on nine hours and not the usual six. The erratic nature of these flows is why this stretch of water is the most respected. Add to this the fact that the water temperature is only 12-13°C (upper 50°Fs) and jellyfish are a huge variable. Stings are definite."

Alison Streeter and Kevin Murphy both have three successful crossings. Kevin has two Ireland-to-Scotland crossing and one Scotland-to-Ireland crossing while Alison has one Ireland-to-Scotland and two Scotland-to-Ireland crossings.

Not only is it difficult to cross the North Channel, but it also requires a long road to success: Prior to Ward's first success (whose course is charted above), she tried three separate times to make it across:

Ireland to Scotland Successful Solo Swimmers

1. Tom Blower, 28 July 1947, 15 hours 26 minutes
2. Kevin Murphy, 11 September 1970, 11 hours 21 minutes
3. Kevin Murphy, 29 August 1971, 14 hours 27 minutes
4. Ted Keenan, 11 August 1973, 18 hours 27 minutes
5. Alison Streeter, 22 August 1988, 9 hours 54 minutes
6. Margaret (Maggie) Kidd, 23 August 1988, 15 hours 26 minutes
7. Colleen Blair, 12 September 2008, 15 hours 23 minutes
8. Anne Marie Ward, 1-2 September 2010, 18 hours 59 minutes (water temperature 12-13.4°C)
9. Craig Lenning, 27 July 2011, 14 hours 44 minutes (water temperature 12-13°C)
10. Howard Keech, 2 August 2011, 14 hours 47 minutes (water temperature down to 10.5°C)
11. Fergal Somerville, 16 June 2013, 12 hours 21 minutes (water temperature a constant 9°C)
12. Michelle Macy, 15 July 2013, 9 hours 34 minutes
13. Milko van Gool, 30 July 2013, 10 hours 34 minutes
14. Pádraig Mallon, 16 August 2013, 12 hours 48 minutes
15. Darren Miller, 29 August 2013, 11 hours 16 minutes

Scotland to Ireland Successful Solo Swimmers

1. Alison Streeter, 25 August 1989, 10 hours 4 minutes
2. Alison Streeter, 18 August 1997, 10 hours 2 minutes
3. Kevin Murphy, 7 September 1989, 17 hours 17 minutes
4. Paul Lewis, 27 July 1999, 14 hours 28 minutes
5. Stephen Price, 21 July 2000, 16 hours 56 minutes
6. Colm O Neill, 31 July 2004, 11 hours 25 minutes
7. Stephen Redmond, 31 August 2010, 17 hours 17 minutes
8. Anna Carin Nordin, 8 July 2013, 14 hours 21 minutes

The "Dál Riata Channel Swim"

Wayne Soutter was the first person to complete the Dál Riata Channel Swim from Scotland to Ireland in 2012.

1. Wayne Soutter 26 August 2012, 12 hours 11 minutes.


Irish Channel

Oceans Seven

The North Channel is part of the Oceans Seven, a global 7-channel challenge first proposed in June 2008 by Steven Munatones and first achieved by Stephen Redmond on 14 July 2012. It consists of the following 7 waterways around the world:

1. North Channel between Ireland and Scotland
2. Cook Strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand
3. Molokai Channel between Oahu and Molokai Islands in Hawaii
4. English Channel between England and France
5. Catalina Channel between Santa Catalina Island and then Southern California mainland
6. Tsugaru Channel between the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan
7. Strait of Gibraltar between Europe and Africa

Videos from the North Channel

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