When we look at old photos of Mercedes Gleitze attempting to swim across the North Channel between Scotland and Ireland, we half expect to see a young Brian Meharg MBE in her boat, so intertwined he is with swimming the North Channel. Meharg has been escorting channel swimmers across the North Channel for decades.
As he is winding down his illustrious career, the attempts on the 18.6 nautical mile (35 km) North Channel between the North of Ireland and Mull of Galloway in Scotland are increasing. But his knowledge and decades of experience are a treasure for channel swimmers to cherish and utilize.
True to his nature, the personable and knowledgeable pilot is ushering in a new generation of escort pilots. “After years of being on the fringes of open water swimming, the Oceans Seven has helped firmly put the North Channel on the map.
While I focus on three attempts per season, I am looking to persuade other captains to take up the mantle on each side, in both Scotland and Ireland, by providing advice and courses to take.”
It is men like Meharg who have enjoyed and participated in the sport for decades and have formed a solid foundation for the sport to take off in the 21st century.
His history and experience on the North Channel are colorfully and comprehensively documented on his website, Bangor Boat here.
From Kevin Murphy in 1971 to Darren Miller in 2013, Maherg has been a constant in the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland. His record of success is unprecedented in the Channel:
* 29 August 1971: Kevin Murphy of England (crew)
* 11 August 1973: Ted Keenan of Ireland (crew)
* 22 August 1988: Alison Streeter of England (pilot)
* 25 August 1989: Alison Streeter of England (pilot)
* 27 August 1990: Ireland 1 relay team (pilot)
* 14 August 1993: City of Liverpool relay (pilot)
* 23 June 1996: Irish (Dublin) relay (pilot)
* 18 August 1997: Alison Streeter of England (pilot)
* 27 July 1999: Paul Lewis of England (pilot)
* 20 August 1999: Californian relay (pilot)
* 21 July 2000: Stephen Price of England (pilot)
* 26 August 2002: City of Liverpool relay (pilot)
* 6 July 2004: City of Derry relay (pilot)
* 31 July 2004: Colm O’Neill of Ireland (pilot)
* 12 September 2008: Colleen Blair of Scotland (pilot)
* 31 August 2010: Stephen Redmond of Ireland (pilot)
* 27 July 2011: Craig Lenning of America (pilot)
* 2 August 2011: Howard Keech of England (pilot)
* 22 August 2011 Camlough relay of Ireland (pilot)
* 8 July 2013: Anna-Carin Nordin of Sweden (pilot)
* 16 August 2013: Padraig Mallon of Ireland (pilot)
* 29 August 2013: Darren Miller of America (pilot)
Nuala Moore admires his dedication and passion. “Brian’s involvement has been so much more than a pilot in the North Channel. He has been there through all its difficult past when there were only a few swimmers a year. But he still maintained a momentum to allow the 21st century to come through with the now massive volume of interest.
Brian has maintained the channel’s history since he was a tea boy on the North Channel back in the 1970’s when the great Kevin and Alison started their North Channel journeys and now has continued through the decades from the history as seen through Mercedes’ eyes. He mainly held all the newspaper cuttings, etc.”
What is common knowledge is that there is very little that Brian does not know about the North Channel. Meharg, a true treasure for the ages.
Photo shows Brian Meharg MBE with North Channel swimmer Howard Keech.
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