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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 August 2007, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Lifeguard conquers Rathlin swim
Rathlin Island
Rathlin Island was the starting point for Ciaran's swim
A Ballycastle lifeguard has become the first person in 40 years to complete the swim from Rathlin Island to Ballycastle.

Ciaran McGinn, at just 23 years of age, overcame unpredictable tides, chilly waters and scores of jellyfish to complete the six-and-a-half mile swim in just over three hours.

More than 100 people gathered along the sea front to see him become the first man since legendary swimmer Jack McClelland to complete the feat.

"It was a great reception, there was a good crowd," Ciaran said.

"It was a bit surreal to be honest. I'd like to thank them all very much for their support."

Ciaran decided to attempt the swim after a workmate came up with the idea.

All funds raised from sponsorship of Ciaran's effort will go directly to the RNLI.

Rathlin Island map
Ciaran McGinn completed the swim in three hours, 10 minutes

He had originally planned to set off from Church Bay on Rathlin before dawn but due to poor weather conditions he was forced to wait until later in the day.

Ciaran, a former triathlon competitor, spent hours in the sea and in the gym preparing for the challenge.

He said the most difficult part of the swim was in the area around Fairhead "because the tides kept pushing me back".

"I was swimming and not getting anywhere for about 20 minutes," he said.

"If I had left ten to 15 minutes later, I could have shaved about 30 minutes off my time, but I was too eager to get into the water.

"Thankfully, the tides turned as I headed into the harbour and it was fairly straight-forward from then on."

Ciaran had estimated that it would take him between five and six hours to reach the shore, but managed to complete the stretch in three hours and 10 minutes.

"It wasn't as cold as I thought it was going to be and thankfully there weren't too many jellyfish," he said.

Ciaran said that while he had no immediate plans to repeat the crossing, he "would not completely rule it out in the future".

"I wouldn't say no. John Higgins, who came up with the idea of swimming from Rathlin, says he has something else up his sleeve so we'll have to wait and see."

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