TWO Lurgan lads are taking part in the challenge of a lifetime, swimming across the chilly waters of Lough Neagh in aid of charity.
Gordon Hamill and Gerard Martin are no strangers to extreme challenges but swimming the expanse of Ireland’s largest lake must be one of the toughest yet.
The pair aim to swim from the lodge in Glenavy across to the Battery near Ardboe, a distance of almost nine miles on August 3.
A flotilla of boats will be supporting them across the Lough with a big music session at the Battery Bar on arrival.
Postman Gerard is well used to exercise delivering mail throughout the district. Not only is he fit and eager for the challenge but he’s a bright spark too, having recently completed a post graduate degree in careers guidance. Gordy, who is 39, works for the Southern Regional College as a network administrator
Gordy said: “I had heard about Children in Crossfire from a colleague when I was a cross community worker which I did for four years working between Shankhill and the Falls.”
Gerard worked in Africa and after climbing Kilimanjaro had heard about Children in Crossfire.
They have trained for quite a few years for various marathons, triathalons and fundraising events like the Big Cycle to Donegal.
“I usually try to set myself a challenge at the start of every year as otherwise i start getting unfit and I find it hard to train just for trainings sake,” said Gordy.
He said he had become a reasonably strong swimmer and decided he would try to swim the lough but give himself a year to train. “It was something myself and friends would talk about when we swam in the lough as youngsters,” he said.
“I was a bit cautious about asking Gerard as it seemed a bit of a tall order but he was up for the challenge straight away.
“We contacted Lough Neagh Rescue chairman Paul Quinn and he was very supportive from the start. So we will be making a donation to LNR from our fundraising.
“We have done thousands of lengths of the pool and many miles in Camlough, Craigavon Lakes and Carlingford Lough, teaching ourselves drafting techniques,” he said.
“We feel we have built up the miles for the attempt including a 10km swim in Carlingford Lough recently but the lough is unpredicable,” said Gordy.
If you would like to donate, here are the links: www.justgiving.com/Gordon-Hamill1