Kildare men to swim through shark infested waters for charity

Two men from Kildare are taking on a swim in shark infested waters for charity, writes Pam Ryan.

Dangerous currents and icy temperatures would be enough to have most of us racing for dry land but two friends from Naas are setting off for the United States next week to swim from Alcatraz, the notorious prison island, to San Francisco for charity.

Stephen Tighe and Paul Quigley.

The route was first immortalised by Clint Eastwood's Escape from Alcatraz nearly 40 years ago and for decades it was regarded by prison inmates as 'the impossible swim' because of the number who perished trying to escape from the island.

I guess we know why they built a prison there then.

But now the area is a scene for extreme sport challenges and has attracted competitors from all over the world.

Stephen Tighe and Paul Quigley will join these ranks when they take the plunge at Sharkfest Swim 2017 in San Francisco Bay on June 4.

Stephen, an electrical engineer, and his pal Paul, who co-owns a hair salon, are covering all of the costs of the trip out of their own pockets. But they have also been raising thousands for charity, with international agricultural organisation Gorta-Self Help Africa, and a children’s education programme in Cambodia set to benefit from their expedition.

And what would give someone this crazy idea in the first place?

And they're off! #newportsharkfest #SharkfestSwim

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An interview with a previous competitor provided Stephen with the inspiration to take the challenge, and although he admits that "it took some convincing" to get Paul onboard, once they signed up for the event there was no looking back.

These two are no novices when it comes to sporting adventures either. Last year they cycled the length of Ireland together in one day.

And apart from the Great White Sharks the two seem very prepared.

“We knew that we would need to do a lot of training to get to the standard that was required, and have been training every week in Dublin Bay to prepare ourselves,” Stephen says.

“Since we started training we’ve probably each completed around 250km, so we should be ready.

“We’re prepared for the cold and hopefully won’t have to worry about the sharks. There will be plenty of us in the water, so as long as we’re not the slowest!” Stephen jokes.

For more information on how to support these brave men, contact Gorta-Self Help Africa on (01) 677 8880.


By Pam Ryan

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