I have spoken to two Wexford people in recent days whose charitable endeavours have involved taking to the sea and both of them had interesting stories to tell.
One of these people, 74-year-old Olive Vaughan from Kilrane, shed her inhibitions and her clothes in aid of cancer research.
Olive took part in the “Dip in the Nip” in Sligo last weekend and had a wonderful time. She went there with her brother Cyril and his wife Maureen, who is currently recovering from cancer.
All three took part in the mass skinny dip and their unusual choice of headwear meant they were able to pick their derrieres out of the many that appeared in the photos in the national newspapers today!
You can read all about how Olive got on (and see some cheeky photos) in the Wexford People on Wednesday, where you’ll also find the story of Pat Whitney (see below), who should have worn a bit more when he entered the water in Curracloe recently.
Pat will turn 60 soon, but he’s showing no signs of slowing down and the end of his cycling career last year has seen him switch his considerable energy and attention to open water swimming.
If you are partial to a dip yourself then please support Pat’s swim in aid of the Tracie Lawlor Turst for Cystic Fibrosis at Curracloe next Saturday. I’ve been in there a couple of times myself recently and it’s not that cold, though if you’re staying in for a while wear a wetsuit!
And you thought “golf widows” had it bad…
BADLY disorientated with hypothermia, Pat Whitney heard a familiar voice on the other end of the line when he dialled 999 from Curracloe recently.
Most people would have thought they were hallucinating in the same scenario, but then most people are not married to Ambulance Control Centre workers.
The Enniscorthy man’s wife Marie picked up the phone and couldn’t make much sense of what her husband was saying on the of the line, but she deciphered enough to get an ambulance out to him quickly.
The 59-year-old’s body temperature had dropped to a dangerously low 32 degrees after he had discarded his wetsuit in favour of his togs and went for a long open-sea swim in choppy water.
‘I felt as if I was drunk,’ recalled Pat. He said he got ‘a bad dose’ of hypothermia and was approaching a point where heart failure or slipping into a coma becomes a danger.
He said he was so disorientated it took him half an hour to get from the water to his car and in the meantime he was exposed to a harsh north easterly wind.
He recalled tha he met another man while he was out swimming (from Ballinesker to Curracloe and back) and he had told Pat he must be ‘hardy’ for swimming without a wetsuit. Apparently that’s not quite how Marie sees it!
He was back swimming in a few days and the incident hasn’t put Pat off his newfound passion, after he was forced to give up his first sporting love, cycling, last year.
‘I had to put the bike away last year. Both knees were gone after 35 years of racing and falls,’ said Pat, joking that he and Marie have spent much of their marriage in A&E due to his sporting interests.
To keep fit he took up swimming and quickly developed a love for sea or open water swimming. ‘I’m not waving the white flag just yet,’ said Pat, when asked about his ambitious plans for the coming months as he prepares to turn 60.
First on the agenda is a charity swim he has organised in Curracloe, which will take place on Saturday, July 2 (three weeks before his 60th birthday) at 5 p.m.
Pat has organised the swim as a precursor to, and fundraiser for, a sponsored swim he is doing in aid of the Tracie Lawlor Trust for Cystic Fibrosis next September, when he will be one of a group from Co Wexford who will swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco.
Registration for the Curracloe swim next Saturday will take place at The Winning Post in the main car park. There is a short swim and a long swim. The long swim is approximately one mile the short swim is as long as you are able for or comfortable with.
The entry fee is €25, which includes refreshments in Hotel Curracloe, who are sponsoring the event, after the swim.
Not content with the San Francisco swim, Pat is also hoping to mark his 60th birthday by being part of a team to swim the English Channel.
To qualify as a member of this team he will have to complete a two-mile open water swim – without a wetsuit – in Kinsale, Co Cork, on Saturday July 9. Although he said he’s not faring too bad – those hoping to swim solo across the channel have to complete six hours.
In the meantime, Pat is continuing his training in earnest and when she can Marie now walks along the shore to keep an eye on him!
Contact Pat on 086-8172231 or Ian Lawlor on 087-2696983 for an entry form or further details about next Saturday’s charity swim in Curracloe.
Registration forms can also be downloaded here.