Anne Marie Ward Never Gave Up

Anne Marie Ward Never Gave Up

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Anne Marie Ward from North West Donegal, Ireland failed once, twice, three times in her attempts to swim across the North Channel between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But she continued to dream and train and prepare.

In 2008 with the water temperature at 12°C, she start at 3 am in the darkness. After 17 and a half hours swimming from Northern Ireland to Scotland, the tides were too strong and were pushing her back towards the start.

In 2009, the weather started to turn only two and a half hours into her attempt. The wind drove her up onto the Copeland Islands at 3 am, her pilot boat was separated from her, and she ended up being rescued by a rib after spending time on her own. Her crew could not see her due to the waves and she waited patiently on shore on some barren rocks.

In 2010, she set off on her third attempt despite the slew of jellyfish in the channel. She swam for five hours until her joints seized up and she was unable to move her arms and legs. The toxins from the stings was too much and she ended up hospitalized in Belfast City Hospital. Despite the pain, she and her crew decided to try once again the following month.

In September 2010, 4 weeks after she was released from the hospital, Ward started again from Northern Ireland and reached Portpatrick, Scotland after 18 hours 59 minutes in 12°C water. She became the first Irish woman to complete a North Channel crossing.

Largely as a result of her efforts in the North Channel, she was honored as the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year. True to her nature, she gave honor to others during her acceptance speech at the United Nations during the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame awards ceremony in New York City. She also gave a presentation at the 2011 Global Open Water Swimming Conference at Columbia University in Manhattan.

Anne Marie Ward at Columbia University at the 2011 Global Open Water Swimming Conference
Anne Marie Ward at the United Nations Building for the 2011 International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame ceremonies

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Steven Munatones