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You may have seen a current tv advert which features Alan Corcoran. He is attempting to swim the length of Ireland, some 500km to raise funds for some charities close to his heart. Alan has kindly answered some questions about this attempt and why he chose to challenge himself in such a way.

This is a unique challenge Alan. Can you tell me about your swimming background and what the sport means to you?

I started swimming lessons when I was five and that continued through primary school until I was around 11. This was just lifesaving lessons once a week, so I was never competitive or never trained with a club. My main hobbies growing up were soccer and athletics so once I started secondary school there just wasn’t enough days in the week for all of them and that’s when I stopped swimming.

In 2010 (aged 20), a year prior to running a lap of Ireland, I signed up to a sprint distance triathlon in Tramore stupidly without training, assuming my athletics experience and childhood swimming experience would see me through. I remember coming out of the water after the circa 750 metres in near last place and exhausted, crawling, breast stroking and back stroking my way to the shore.

I didn’t revisit swimming again until I was 25, having decided to try swim a length of Ireland in memory of my dad a month after his death. I was basically starting from scratch in September 2016 in terms of technique and swim fitness so it was a mammoth challenge to get in shape for the May 2017 start. It was real transformation over those months in the pool from stopping every 25 metres to tipping away for 5 hours in the North Sea.

Swimming for me was a new challenge to exceed the difficulty of the 35 consecutive marathon challenge. It was a new problem to solve and something to focus my thoughts and a positive goal after the death of my dad.

You are raising money in honour of your dad Milo Corcoran and for a number of charities. Can you tell us a bit about why you chose these charities specifically?

Each year, approximately 10,000 Irish people have a stroke and around 2,000 die. The lives of these people are often cut tragically short and many are left disabled. The Irish Heart Foundation is the nation’s heart and stroke charity. Their mission is to affect positive change in the lifestyles of Irish people, to achieve better outcomes for those affected by heart disease and stroke and to challenge when the health of our nation is put at risk. As my dad suffered a Stroke when he was 60, the Irish Heart Foundation was a cause I wanted to get behind.

The Solas Centre provides the highest quality cancer support services to the people of Waterford and the South East. These support services include counselling, relaxation therapies, and group support services. The Centre provides those affected by cancer, their families, and carers with a safe place, a place to talk things over, to relax, and express emotions. My dad died of Cancer at 65 so I chose to support this local centre, a centre me and my family availed of during that difficult time in our lives.

 

You have previously attempted this swim in 2017. The support boat sank some 200km into your attempt. This hasn’t deterred you attempting again. Does the failed first attempt help motivate you even more to succeed?

I didn’t feel I lacked any motivation in 2017 so in that sense I think my motivation has remained the same. I certainly was naive then and I lacked swimming and sea swimming experience but the first attempt gave me experience by the truckload. I sat down and analysed what went wrong and think I have the solutions to overcome them issues but there’s no point saying it, I have to go back and prove it, see if I have what it takes to learn, adapt and overcome.

You have also run an incredible 35 marathons in 35 days back in 2012. That in itself was a remarkable achievement. Obviously, the training needed for this swim is different but what strikes me is your mental toughness. Do people ever tell you are you are mad to attempt these challenges? Do those that doubt you just make you more determined?

For me personally, this swim requires much more mentally than the run. I never once had a moment of doubt that I wouldn’t finish the run and never wanted to just stop but this was a daily struggle during the swim. The cold, the waves and even mentally trying to get somewhat comfortable in deep waters with sea life were additional elements to endure on top of the physical act of swimming itself.

I don’t see it as mad but I do hear mad thrown around quite a bit. To be honest, I’ve only had support to my face or on social media. No doubt there are people who think I won’t do or talk amongst themselves but that doesn’t cross my mind at all. I don’t feel I need to prove anything to naysayers, that’s not my reason I’m taking on such an endeavour. This challenge is a tribute to my dad, a test of my personal limits, a way to raise money for charity and hopefully a feat that will inspire others to be more active or push their limits a bit more.

Away from the record attempts and charity work what do you enjoy doing?

In the last few months there’s very little downtime. Typically, if I’m not in my office job or swimming, I’m trying to organise one of the many logistical pieces to this puzzle. I’m on my motorbike daily so that’s always enjoyable and the rest of my downtime is normally spent with my girlfriend who’s managed to stick with me and support me with all the commitments I have at the moment. She’s actually going so far as coming on board as my support kayaker for the 500km swim.

Open Water swimming is growing in popularity across the country. Tell me about your training routine? How long is spent each day in the water preparing for this?

I’m based in London so nearly all my work is in the pool, with the odd cold dip in the Serpentine Lake and Royal Docklands too. I’m finishing work a month before the challenge this time around to maximise the amount of sea swims in advance since the pool is just no substitute. At this stage of the year, I’m getting in at least one 10 – 15km swim per week, while spending around 2 hours in the pool most remaining days, so around 7 sessions per week. I have some interesting days of 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the evening pencilled in to replicate the challenge so they will be telling and I look forward to getting that under my belt.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions Alan. Can you tell me how people can follow your attempt and support your cause?

If people want to donate or follow the challenge please visit www.marathonman.co . There’s a live tracker there and links to my social media platforms where I’ll keep people posted on the progress.

This swim is a unique attempt at raising some much-needed funds for charities close to Alan and many people's hearts. Please feel free to share on social media and donate to such a worthy cause. All of us at Munster Swimming will be following closely and we wish Alan all the best on this incredible swim

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