Portadown man, who built pool in garage, beats Guinness record for swimming North Channel

Portadown man Jordan Lecky, who swam the North Channel in world-record beating time, built a swimming pool in his garage to practice during Lockdown.

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 3:10 pm

Jordan left Donaghadee at 6.45am on Monday morning and finished the 36km swim to Scotland’s Portpatrick in nine hours, nine minutes and 30 seconds.

Jordan Leckey (29) left Donaghadee at 6.45am yesterday (Monday) and completed the 36km swim to Portpatrick, near Stranraer in Scotland, in an incredible nine hours, five minutes and 30 seconds.

He reckons he was swimming at a rate of four kilometres an hour and is just the 84th person to swim that channel successfully. Indeed he beat the previous record in 2013 set by an American woman at nine hours 37 mins.

Portadown man Jordan Leckey about to embark on the North Channel swim from Donaghadee to Scotland. He smashed the Guinness World Record, swimming it in nine hours, five minutes and 30 seconds.

Asked how the conditions were, Jordan said: “The stars aligned on Monday. It was meant to happen. The weather was class. It wasn’t too sunny. It wasn’t too cold, although the water was really cold and the winds were low. It was a perfect day for it.”

He said he saw quite a few jellyfish. “I don’t know if I got stung. I pulled a barb out of my toe after. I had thought I might have got stung. There’s a few marks on my shoulders. But during the swim I didn’t feel anything. I was already in enough pain that I couldn’t feel anymore,” he said laughing.

Training during Lockdown was interesting. He said: “I build my own pool in the garage during Lockdown. I bought an above ground pool and insulated it myself. I installed a heater and filter. Then I got a big bungee chord and tied it to the wall and just swam on the same spot in the pool.”

He explained: “All the pools were closed and the Lough was far too cold to go out. I had no other choice.”

Portadown man Jordan Leckey standing at the rocks at Donaghadee looking at Scotland in the far distance as he embarks on his North Channel swim. He smashed the Guinness World Record, swimming it in nine hours, five minutes and 30 seconds.

A former pupil of Tandragee Primary School, Clounagh Junior High School and Portadown College, Jordan went on to study zoology at Queen’s University.

From Whitesides Hill, Jordan has always been keen on swimming. So much so, he took a job as a life guard at the new South Lakes Leisure Centre so he could train.

“I just wanted to focus on my swimming for a while,” said Jordan. “I didn’t really want to get a nine to five job which wouldn’t have that flexibility.”

He started swimming aged four at Portadown Swimming Club moving to Lurgan Swimming Club where he was trained by Dorothy Johnston.

Portadown man Jordan Leckey swimming from Donaghadee to Scotland on his North Channel swim. He smashed the Guinness World Record, swimming it in nine hours, five minutes and 30 seconds.

Indeed, such is her inspiration, she still trains Jordan and was with him on the boat as he carried out the massive swim across the North Channel to Scotland.

From his youth he was a superb swimmer and won the All Ireland Division One championships in the butterfly and breast stroke three years in a row in his late teens.

Even at university Jordan was returning home to help out at Lurgan Swimming Club.

Many of the parents of the kids at the club were going down to swim at Oxford Island with the Lough Neagh Monster Dunkers.

Portadown man Jordan Leckey standing with friends celebrating beating the Guinness World Record by swimming the North Channel from Donaghadee to Scotland in nine hours, five minutes and 30 seconds.

“I thought I would go down and tiddle about. But then I got into swimming in the Lough.”

Jordan got involved in open water swimming competitions in 2018 with his first at Rock Around the Point at Warrenpoint run by Infinity Channel Swimming.

“They are like a big family. Everyone is just so friendly and I won that first competition.

“I though, ahh, I have a wee knack for this open water swimming. Compared to swimming in the pool, it’s great. You have something to look at apart from the black line at the bottom of the pool.”

He added: “That spurred me on to do national open water competitions. There’s a series called the Global Swim Series with 100 odd different countries run races throughout the year. I raced 20 of their competitions in 2019/20 season and I won the wetsuit category. They run competitions all over, and I went to France and Morocco one year as well.

“About a year ago, after I won the Global Swim Series, I didn’t quite know what else to do and where to go next.”

He revealed that he was speaking to his great friends Chris Judge and Gordon Hamill. “When you are surrounded by people like that, well the North Channel seems to be the goal.”

Last summer he contacted his coach Dorothy. He asked her: “Do you think I am mad to do this? I knew she would tell me straight and she backed me saying that she did think I could do it.”

He then contacted Infinity and booked a slot and trained for the past year.

Jordan revealed that he had to swim the North Channel is nothing but a pair of speedos, a hat and goggles.

Now having succeeded swimming the North Channel he is planning his next adventure.

He revealed that he wants to do The Triple Crown with Chris Judge. That is three massive swims in Ireland - the North Channel, Galway Bay and also the Fastnet Rock to Baltimore in Cork which is about 22km and the most southerly point in Ireland.

He is also toying with the idea of doing Oceans Seven which is the swimming equivalent of the Seven Peaks. “That would take a lot of time and money and that is a long term goal over the next six or seven years.”

Jordan wants to thank the team at Infinity, his coach Dorothy and all the ones in the Lough Neagh Monster Dunkers. “The amount of support I got from everybody is just incredible. When I was really struggling I was thinking about everyone who thought I could do it. It really helped me get through.”

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