Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Sunday, 14 September 2008 11:38 UK

Swimmer achieves Irish Sea dream


By Catherine Lyst
BBC Scotland news website

Colleen during her swim across the Irish Sea
Colleen first attempted to swim across the Irish Sea at the age of 18

A woman from Angus has achieved her dream to swim across the Irish Sea, having failed an attempt 12 years ago.

Colleen Blair, 30, from Birkhill, completed the 23-mile solo swim in 15 hours and 25 mins.

Colleen, who had to abort an attempt at the age of 18 after suffering an asthma attack, said she was "so happy" to have finally completed the route.

She swam the English channel 10 years ago and has also swum round Manhattan Island in New York and Jersey.

Colleen, who works as deputy manager at Aberfeldy Leisure centre, believes she is the ninth person, and third woman, to complete the swim across the North Channel of the Irish Sea.

Jellyfish stings

"I am so happy that it's done," she told the BBC Scotland news website. "It's the only long-distance swim I've started and not finished. I've always wanted to complete it."

Colleen, who was raising money for the charity Debra, which helps people who suffer from a genetic skin blistering condition, trained for the event last year but it was cancelled due to the poor weather conditions.

Colleen Blair and her coach Ian Reid after the swim
Colleen has worked with her coach Ian Reid since she was a child

"I have been waiting all this summer for the call to give me the go-ahead," she added.

"I just like doing these swims for the satisfaction at the end of it and because they are big challenges."

During the night section of the swim, Colleen, who was accompanied by a support boat, was stung by jellyfish.

"The problem is that you can't see jellyfish in the dark," she said. "I set off on a beautiful, sunny day and it was OK until it got dark. Then it got quite choppy."

After months of training, Colleen is now looking forward to taking a well-earned rest.

"I just want a month or so for it to sink in then I will start thinking about what other swims I can do," she said.


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