The nine participants received the unexpected support while negotiating the Belfast Lough shipping lane on Saturday afternoon.
Agnes McAteer, Larry McAteer, Andy Simpson, Claire Hamilton, Glenn Picken, John Grant, Bob Montgomery, Matthew McAneney and Vikki McAneney swam across Belfast Lough from the north Down coastal site to Carrickfergus Castle in under two hours and 15 minutes.
In a recap of the charity event, organiser Gary Davison said: “The day started with blue sky and a flat calm sea, with little wind. This was perfect sea swimming conditions. They got into a steady rhythm and kept closely grouped.
“The first stop was to be prior to crossing the shipping channel, however two ferries were spotted on the horizon and after contacting the Belfast Harbour it was agreed to push the swimmers on across the shipping lane and stop on the far side of the lane. After a quick stop and briefing the nine swimmers picked up the pace and pushed hard across the 194m of shipping channel.
“Once across, they watched the two ships pass as they tucked into a banana and had a drink. People on deck of the Stena Ferry waved to the swimmers as it passed. After everyone was ready, they continued to push on for the castle in Carrickfergus.
“Having set off at 12.15pm all nine swimmers came ashore just before 2.30pm. A large crowd including family and friends had gathered to welcome them ashore.”
This year’s chosen charity is Belfast Lough Sailability which is based in Carrickfergus. The crews from Sailability also provided the safety boats for the swim.