It is a stunning human achievement to swim from NI to Scotland

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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On page three we report today on the honorary degree given to the Belfast boxer Carl Frampton by Queen’s University.

As someone who was a world champion in his sport in two weight classes, Frampton has achieved an exceptional degree of international success for a Northern Irish athlete and is a deserving recipient of such an accolade (having previously been awarded an MBE in the honours).

Also on page three we report a less obvious, but nonetheless major, triumph of human physical endeavour. A Californian woman has swum from Northern Ireland to Scotland.

This might not sound so unusual, given that the distance between Donaghadee and Portpartick is similar to the 21-mile distance between Dover and Calais.

But while almost 2,000 people have swum the latter route, only around 30 have done the former.

This is because the North Channel has stronger currents, is colder and has large amounts of jellyfish.

It is such a difficult feat that the swim is one of seven around the world considered to be a major triumph by elite long distance swimmers.

The shortest part of channel, from the Mull of Kintyre to Ballycastle, is considerably shorter than the route from Donaghadee to Portpatrick, and has only been done once, in 2012, by Wayne Soutter.

Catherine Breed, 26, has just completed the more conventional North Channel crossing, leaving from Co Down, but while it might be fractionally easier than the north Antrim route it is still nothing other than brutally hard. Two others who tried the swim turned back, defeated by the conditions.

There is talk one day of a bridge across to Scotland, which if it happens will be a stunning engineering achievement.

Yet for all such technological marvels, there are still remarkable people who want to do it by manpower, and keep trying until they do.