A man from Portadown set a new world record for swimming in the Northern Channel on his first attempt.
Jordan Leckey (29) left Donaghadee at 6:45 am yesterday (Monday) and completed the 36km swim to Portpatrick, near Stranraer in Scotland, in an incredible 9 hours, 9 minutes and 30 seconds.
He broke the previous record set in 2013 by an American at 9 hours 37 minutes.
“The stars just aligned for me,” the man from Whitesides Hill told Armagh I. “The first two hours were probably the most difficult mentally. You are getting used to the freezing cold and I had so many doubts. I really thought I wasn’t going to be able to do it.
“You look up and you see Scotland, but it’s so far away. When I got there I was so exhausted I could barely stand up but I waved to everyone on the boat and they shouted it was a new world record. They were buzzing for me.
“When you are in the water, you have no idea of time or distance. I thought I had been in the water for about eleven and a half hours.
Jordan, who works as a lifeguard at South Lake Leisure Center and is a member of the Lough Neagh Monster Dunkers open water swimming group, had trained for swimming at Lough Neagh.
Monster Dunker founders Chris Judge and Dorothy Johnston were among those standing by his side for the duration of the challenge.
Chris himself set a world record in June as part of a group that swam 72 miles through St George’s Canal from Ireland to Wales.
Dorothy, meanwhile, coached Jordan from the age of 10 and a member of the Lurgan Amateur Swimming Club.
Jordan’s father John was also on board to guard him with words of encouragement while mum Linda, brother Matthew, girlfriend Jamie-Lee, sister-in-law Aisling and nephew and niece Freddie and Peyton were looking for him from the mainland.
Jordan says he has been overwhelmed with support, not only from the open water swimming community, but the general public.
Members of the Donaghadee-based Chunky Dunkers open-water group stood on the edge with torches to guide him at the start, while hundreds more followed his swim throughout the day.
“I think everyone believed in me more than I believed in myself. It definitely kept me going.
Jordan has previously competed in the Global Swim Series – swims around the world where participants accumulate points – and in 2019/20 won the wetsuit category, swimming around 20 swims in Ireland and countries like France and Morocco.
He is already thinking about his next challenge and is considering the Triple Crown for Ireland, which includes the North Channel, Galway Bay and Fastnet Swim in Cork.
The Oceans Seven is also on its radar and “a big, big deal” because it is global and can take years to achieve.
“This is just the start,” he added.
In the meantime, Jordan takes a day or two to recover. “I can’t move my hands. My guns seized up completely, ”he said.
“I was supposed to get back to work today, but they’ve always been very understanding when it comes to my swimming.”
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