A wholly impressive achievement, two Athlone ladies, Serena Friel and Karen Delaney, completed a 32km of the River Shannon in 10 hours 13 minutes, in the process raising significant funds for the Lough Ree RNLI boathouse project.
The swimming duo, who enjoy a regular swim in the shadows of the soon to be constructed new Lough Ree RNLI boathouse, decided to undertake this daunting challenge and play a prominent fundraising role in fundraising towards the project - the ‘Lough Ree 32km Challenge’ was born.
Following a prolonged period of training, coaching and planning, and with great organisational support from work colleagues, family and friends, the pair took to the water at Lanesborough Bridge on the north of Lough Ree on the Longford/Roscommon border.
Setting off in foggy conditions, Karen was first in the water for this relay swim. She and Serena alternated every hour on their way down the lake. The decision to delay the challenge a few days due to weather patterns proved very wise and the swimmers enjoyed excellent conditions on the water throughout their challenge.
As the swim progressed the support crew on the accompanying boats realised that something special was on the cards. On board reports ticked off all the landmarks on the lake from Quaker Island towards Hare Island. In Athlone and on social media excitement began to mount when by mid-afternoon the swimmers had passed Hodson Bay.
Large crowds of well-wishers and supporters gathered on the quayside in Athlone, from the White Bridge to the Town Bridge in anticipation of their arrival and just after 5pm, accompanied by the Lough Ree RNLI volunteer crew on board the ‘Tara Scougall’ and the support flotilla, which had been alongside them all day, Serena Friel and Karen Delaney crossed the finish line in Athlone to loud applause.
In completing the ‘Lough Ree 32km Challenge’ the women set a record that will take some beating. Following the record breaking achievement Serena thanked ‘swimming partner Karen, coach David Warby and all who supported the challenge in any way.’
“The charity is most grateful to Serena and Karen for a terrific initiative which has already raised over €6,000 for the charity,” Lough Ree RNLI Operations Manager Jude Kilmartin,” said.
The Gofundme page remains open for donations at https://gofund.me/199d3d04.