The countdown is well and truly underway for three Leitrim women who are aiming to be the first women to swim the length of the River Shannon when they begin their month long adventure in August.
Eileen Maxwell and her daughter Heather from Annaduff along with Toni McGlynn, who is originally from Sligo but lives in Carrick-on-Shannon, are all experienced swimmers having completed a number of open water swims but are now preparing for their toughest challenge yet.
To date only two people, Dean Hall from America and Irishman Paddy McDonnell have swam the 145km length of the river but the three local women are hoping to soon add their names to that list.
Although it is over three months away the trio are busy training and putting the logistical plan together for the challenge that will see them raise much needed funds for mental health charity A Lust for Life and the Irish Cancer Society.
The group's youngest member Heather came up with the idea for the swim as she recalled: “Last year I said we would do it the following summer as a passing comment. When I came back from Dublin after doing exams mammy had a full training plan done!
“We laughed initially but we are looking forward to it!”
There will be plenty of challenges to overcome with Eileen pointing out that: “Lough Ree will be the most treacherous or so we have been told by the locals and Lough Derg will take a few days to navigate.”
Elaborating further on the challenges they will face Toni said: “The mental challenge will be the biggest one. The physical challenge will be big but mentally to keep going will be the biggest challenge and the cold when you are spending six hours a day in the water.”
Throughout the month of August Toni, Eileen and Heather will be in the water at 6am, depending on the weather, and will spend six hours in the water every day, other than rest days. The days in the water will be divided into three blocks of two hours.
Heather said the mental challenge is in keeping with one of their chosen charities - A Lust for Life: “The mental aspect of the challenge ties in with the charity. It is like a marathon or any other challenge where you have to get into the zone. Making sure you get the right amount of rest and nutrition is crucial.”
The name of the challenge - Fló Beo, means 'the living flow' and represents the flow of life in each of us and being fulfilled in the present as truly a way of living. Being 'in flow'helps enrich mental and physical wellbeing.
The three ladies are receiving plenty of assistance from a variety of sources ahead of the swim. Jo O'Brien from Vitto's restaurant is co-ordinating the month long event while also sourcing funding and liaising with sponsors and helping to organise fundraising events.
The Longford Sub Aqua Club have been assisting with the open water training and will be on hand to help during the month long swim. Eileen's wife and Heather's father, Frank is a member of the sub aqua club while his other daughter, Cora has been on hand at training taking pictures of the trio.
The group will also be assisted by kayakers during their big swim and have asked kayakers who may have a day to spare during August to get in contact with them.
The group will be officially launching their big swim in Carrick-on-Shannon on June 1 but before then, they are asking any businesses in the area who may wish to sponsor them to contact them at FloBeo2019@gmail.com.
Anyone wishing to donate to the group's fundraising efforts can do so by clicking here www.gofundme.com.