A man has claimed a new world record for swimming from Northern Ireland to Scotland – celebrating his victory with a jam sandwich and a pint.
Jordan Leckey, from Portadown in County Armagh, managed to beat the previous world record by around 25 minutes.
The 29-year-old set off from Donaghadee and arrived at Dunsky Castle, close to Portpatrick, a village in the historical county of Wigtownshire, Dumfries and Galloway in just nine hours, nine minutes and 30 seconds.
Once ratified it will replace the previous best time of nine hours and 34 minutes set by US swimmer Michelle Macy in 2013.
Mr Leckey, who works in a leisure centre, said his only focus was to complete the challenging swim.
“Some people around me were talking about records, but I just wanted to get to the other side, that was my only real focus, no matter how long it took,” he said.
A former competitive swimmer, Mr Leckey has been completing daily open water swimming training and used time in lockdown to build his own pool in his garage to practice in.
Once the weather warmed up, he took his skills to Lough Neagh for training sessions every day.
He started his swim at around 6.40am on Monday, backed by a support swimmer who was allowed to join him in the water three times for an hour during the route.
“The first two hours were the toughest because you’re just starting and haven’t got into the mental swing of things. You’re having all these doubts, thinking it’s really cold, it’s really far and am I actually going to be able to make it,” he said.
“After a while, your body gets numb to the cold but the first hours you feel it.
“There were quite a few jellyfish en route but luckily enough I only got stung on the very tip of one of my toes.
“I only saw what was beneath me in the water but my dad said there were seals, and we saw dolphins on the way back, a huge pod.”
He added that when he was in the water, he lost all concept of time and did not realise he was on course for a record.
“As soon as I climbed up onto the rock I heard shouting, ‘that’s a world record’, and it just felt so good,” he said.
“I tried to stand up and pump my fist in the air but I just didn’t have any energy left.”
The record attempt has been submitted for ratification with the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association (ILDSA) and the Guinness Book of Records.
Mr Leckey was one of three swimmers who completed the route on Monday.