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World of Sport

04th Jun 2015

Swimming 1,400km around Ireland after a training diet of chips, chocolate, Coke and more chips

We could handle the first part

Patrick McCarry

Right now, two Irishmen are in the very early stages of a swim around the island of Ireland that will measure more than 1,400 kilometres and take them at least three months to complete.

On Wednesday, David Burns and Maghnus Collins embarked on Swim 360. It is the first time that anyone has ever endeavoured to swim around the Emerald Isle.

SportsJOE caught up with Burns, a Co. Tyrone native, beforehand to ask ‘Why?’ several times before finally asking ‘How?’

It can’t be easy to train for this challenge. You must be putting the laps in at your local pool?

Right now, after a year of planning for this, we still have more questions than answers. Most of our training has been in logistics, organising a support crew and sourcing the proper equipment.

When it comes to the physical training, I have been doing a lot of work on my stroke. It has a major flaw in that I over-extend it. It has to be a smooth stroke, otherwise you are doing yourself damage. If you were to look at me now, I would not appear to be in shape at all.

We will be doing as much swimming as we can in the first few days but I expect it to be slow going. It will be a real slog for the first week, and month.

You can’t really train to much for this but you do have to get yourself mentally prepared. It is going to be a battle, every day.

What has the reaction been to the challenge?

We did not tell many people about our plans until we knew we had everything sorted. Since then, the response has been quite supportive. Many are intrigued by the idea and ask why no-one has done it before. There was a round-Ireland swim about six years ago but it was a relay effort involving about 20 people.

20/05/15. David Burns and Maghnus Collins who are about to attempt to swim 1,400KM taking 90-120 days around Ireland backed up by Philip Hatton and Leisha McPartland in aid of Gorta_Self Help Africa and the RNLI.David Burns (second left) and Maghnus Collins with Philip Hatton and Leisha McPartland.

You mentioned you do not appear to be in shape. How is that possible when you are planning to swim around an entire nation?

At my fittest, I find I am 81kgs. After running 27 marathons in a row [during a man-powered trek from Istanbul to Shanghai], I was down to 73 kilos. That is as low as I could possibly go. I am usually about 84kg but, for Swim 360, I am up to 93kg. I have put on a stone and a half in the last six weeks.

To gain the weight, that often involves eating avocado and good fats. However, a lot of it is eating bags of chips. I have chocolate everywhere – in my car, in the office – and I am drinking cans of Coke.

You need to have that bulk as, once you lose that fat, your body will start eating into the muscle as it needs fuel to function.

We spoke to an English lad [Sean Conway], whop swam the length of Britain a couple of year’s back. The distance he covered will not be as long as what we will do, but he lost a third of his body weight. Learning that was a jolt of reality.

Maghnus struggles to keep the weight on. He has the physical make-up of a cyclist. I’m okay. My body is more like that of a shot-putter.

How will you keep on the weight at sea?

Myself and Maghnus will be in the water for two stints of six hours each day. When we come out of the water, we will be eating condensed meals. We will be having lots of juices. We have been toying around with powder proteins and high calorie milkshakes with butter and avocado blended in.

Our Costcutter 360 support team is made up of the brilliant Philip Hatton and Leisha McPartland, who will be tracking our physical conditioning, the weather and water conditions, and more.

Who are you guys raising funds for?

RNLI and Gorta – Self Help Africa. Anyone that wants to track our swim can check out our website or follow @sand2snow