Cookstown man to take on world’s two toughest swims in just nine days

Lukasz Kowalczyk from Cookstown plans to swim both the North and English Channels in just nine days

Lukasz Kowalczyk from Cookstown plans to swim both the North and English Channels in just nine days

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A Cookstown man is to tackle two of the world’s most difficult swims with the aim of becoming the first man to accomplish such a unique athletic feat.

Lukasz Kowalczyk will attempt to swim across the North Channel from Northern Ireland to Scotland on June 23 before taking on the world-renowned English Channel challenge just nine days later, at the start of July.

Lukasz with Jim Beattie, Trustee with Charis Integrated Cancer Care

Lukasz with Jim Beattie, Trustee with Charis Integrated Cancer Care

“I want to do something that no one has ever done before and no one has ever swum both channels in such a short period of time,” he explained.

“Both channels are about 22 miles long and it could take 12-15 hours to complete it depending weather conditions,” said Lukasz, who will start from Donaghadee in the early hours before heading to Portpatrick in Galloway.

“I will be supported by a boat and the continuous swim will be done within the rules of channel swim - that means that no wetsuit allowed and there can be no physical contact with boat or other people from start to finish.

“I’m no stranger to open water swimming but this is the biggest challenge ever.

“The big risk is hypothermia. I’m going to use 50-50 of Lanolin and Vaseline but that doesn’t really keep you warm, it is more for the friction.

“The key is acclimatising to the cold. From November I have been swimming outside maybe once a week in just hat, goggles and trunks in temperatures as low as two degrees.”

Lukasz said that as practice he took part in two ice swimming competitions in Newry and Wicklow.

“Only one person has ever swum the North Channel in June because it is the coldest month.

“The tides will be moving you one way and then the other every few hours so you will never be able to go in a straight line.

“The thing is that if the green light gives you the go ahead it is up to Mother Nature - anything could happen but I am hoping for the good weather.”

1,400 people have swum the English channel, but Lukasz, who is originally from Raciborz, is not making light of that challenge.

“You’ve just got to wait and see what you get on the day.

“I came from Poland and settled in Cookstown ten years ago and now I would like to give something back to the community - that is why I am raising the money for the local cancer charity Charis.”

You can support Lukasz’s Four Nation Channel Swim at www.justgiving.com/Lucas-Kowalczyk1 and you can see his previous challenges at www.fournationchannelswim.com