Adventurer becomes the first person to swim the Kenmare River
A weather window opened and after consideration Davenport decided to start the swim on April 10th rather than wait, taking a chance with the unpredictable weather.
At 07:02, Ripley Davenport walked into the sea, dressed in a specially designed HUUB wetsuit, at O’ Carroll’s Cove and began a steady solo swim to Kenmare Pier, without boat support and totally alone, towing his entire provisions on a sit-on-top-kayak, kindly supplied by Star Outdoors in Dawros, Kenmare.
11 hours and 47 minutes later at 18:49, after swimming 42.8km in demanding sea conditions and sea temperatures of 10’C, Davenport crawled onto the beach exhausted and very emotional.
Many respected locals that live and work by the Kenmare River said it couldn't be done or a shorter route should be considered, as conditions are unpredictable and extremely dangerous. Ripley proved it could be done becoming the first person to swim the Kenmare River.
Davenport said, “That was really tough and very scary. Without doubt, it was the hardest thing: physically, mentally and emotionally, I have ever done.”
Swimming roughly the equivalent of the English Channel, Davenport was repeatedly followed by curious seals sometimes swimming underneath and alarmingly close. High winds and extreme swells stopped Davenport from keeping to his strict feeding and drinking routine. He became violently sick due to the ingestion of saltwater and his kayak even rolled over twice in the irregular high swells loosing some minor equipment. Struggling to upright his kayak, his tracker lost its satellite signal raising fears that Davenport was in distress. A tracker works on the basis that a clear view of the sky is always maintained. Davenport’s tracker was programmed to send an automated signal every 10 minutes accurately indicating his position, time and that he was OK.
Valentia Coastguard - informed about the event prior to the swim - monitored the situation closely with homebase. However, a satellite signal was re-established 25 minutes later. Davenport simply had no idea that a rescue was imminent during this technical silence until he finished. Valentia Coastguard continued to monitor the situation closely telephoning the moment Davenport arrived at Kenmare Pier to confirm he was well.
Homebase commented, “It was touch and go for a moment and although I knew Rip was competent enough to deal with any emergency, I didn’t want to take anything for granted. I am very grateful to Valentia Coastguard for their assistance and professionalism.”
Undeterred Davenport clearly displayed tremendous physical and mental strength as he confronted the Kenmare River in an ambitious adventure, an indisputable test of his human endurance. It conveys a message to everyone that anything is possible and anyone can achieve a dream that transcends all boundaries.
Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis In 2011, Davenport set himself an enormous challenge mentally, physically and emotionally battling cold, monotony, fatigue, strong tides and the unpredictable Irish weather.