Building a Better Health Service


Audrey Conquers Channel Goal

If you get the training done you can achieve your goals was the message from a public health nurse from Cork whose dream came true this summer when she completed the iconic swim across the English Channel.

Audrey Channel Swim 720

Audrey Burkley, who is a School Vaccination PHN with North Lee Community Services in Cork, was part of a five-person relay team in an amazing time of 14 hours and 51 minutes.

“My ultimate dream was to swim the English Channel. I put the word out there last year but I didn’t get any interest so I signed up for a 38-mile swim relay around Jersey instead this summer as well as the London Docklands 10km swim,” explained Audrey.

“I trained hard during the year with the help of Martin and Marc with Cork Masters and then swam in Myrtleville and Sandycove.”

Despite a shoulder injury which hindered her training, she was determined nothing was going to stop her, particularly when the chance to swim the Channel emerged.

“I heard through Facebook that a gentleman who had signed for a solo swim across the Channel but unable to do so was forming a team together quickly for the channel. We were called I was joining four men from Great Britain who I never met before. It was risky but I had the training done so I was prepared,” she said.

“I met them the night beforehand and there were a lovely bunch and we all had one aim - to become channel swimmers.”

The epic swim started at 7am on Monday, July 3rd. Conditions were nice and calm for the first two hours and then the weather changed and the swimmers were battling tough conditions.

“I found the training I had done beforehand so beneficial and put all my energy into the swims. Each one of the team of five swam three times. It was so exciting and we all achieved our dreams. It really was a wonderful experience.”

The time it takes to swim the channel all depends on the weather and tides. The shortest distance from England to France is 33.2km

But that wasn’t the end of the swimming for Audrey.

She returned to work in Cork and then and then onto Ned Dension’s Distance Camp where she met amazing swimmers from different parts of the world.

“Ned organises the camp himself every year and sets out the programme for the week including a torture swim and a six-hour qualifier. There are two swims a day from Loch Allua, Fermoy Reservoir, Loch Hyne, Fountainstown to Myrtleville and Cooper Coast Championships. After the swim, there was homemade soup provided and rolls - swimming gives you a great appetite,” she joked.

There was disappointment when strong winds meant that the organised swim around Jersey island could not go ahead.

“The plan was to swim right around Jersey island. It was a waiting game with the weather and the wind was too strong so we never got to swim around. This was very disappointing with open water swimming weather dependent. The island of Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands and has 45 miles of beautiful coastline,” she said.

Later that month, she completed the 10km route in the Dock2Dock Race London.

“We were swimming beside London Airport along the docks. It was a tough swim but enjoyable,” Audrey added.