If you are in Ireland, you know Steve is getting pretty great coverage and reception here in Ireland, as it should be. Many interviewers don’t really get it, you can hear the bemusement in their voices. But in fairness to them, those of us who are swimmers have trouble wrapping our heads around it.
For most of the world, to swim ONE of those swims is only a dream. Only the tinyest percentage of people complete one or two.
Steve, for now, is the only person, ever, to complete all seven swims and will always be the first.
Just pause there for a moment: Three years, seven Channels, eleven swims.
Hundreds of people met Stephen and Noel Browne, one of Steve’s most trusted friends, Tsugaru crew and significant organiser and behind the scenes powerhouse, when they returned to Cork, the Rebel County, and the real capitol at Cork Airport last night. They had spent almost all the time from immediately after finishing Tsugaru on Sunday travelling home.
Many travelled in convoy back to West Cork through Clonakilty with car horns honking toward Ballydehob, with bonfires blazing on the hills, a Celtic tradition thousands of years old. “Home is the sailor, home from the sea”.
There were special greetings and homecomings in Cork. Steve’s wife Ann was at the airport, as were his two kids, little Stevie and Siadbh, family, friends, supporters and swimmers.
If you’ve read Steve’s previous accounts of swims here, you will know that his mantra while swimming is to repeat his children’s names, and as Ann said last night to Sandycove Island Swim Club Chairwoman Liz and myself, when things get tough he adds her name!
Stephen was grabbed by national TV on exiting the gate to much cheering, but he moved to grab his family and close friends, including close friend and Lough Ine training partner and Sandycove Island Swimming pioneer and Channel swimmer Steven Black.
We waited around, talked a lot of swimming, and then the man himself came over, lots of manly and womanly swim hugs and we got time to talk with him, and he shared some details of the Tsugaru swim, that made all us swimmers feel like we were there. As Liam said, that moment alone was special. Stephen said to me he’d already written up the Tsugaru swim report for me, and I hadn’t even asked this time, I figured he had more than enough professionals hanging on his time and every word. We were there because we are all open water swimmers and admirers and he is one, in fact right now he is The Swimmer.
We took a picture with the members of Sandycove Island Swim Club who were able to make it.
Being an unashamed fanboy, I of course got his autograph, not for the first time.
Welcome home Steve. You make us all proud to be Irish, proud to be swimmers, and proud to know you. Arise Cork, and take your place among the nations of the world.
So, Stephen’s Tsugaru swim report, coming in two days!