MLA Cara Hunter taking plunge for Women’s Aid NI

A Northern Ireland MLA is throwing herself in at the deep end to raise funds for vulnerable women in the Province.

MLA Cara Hunter is aiming to swim 14 miles in 14 days

Cara Hunter, 26, started her swimming challenge on Monday – to swim 14 miles in 14 days.

While most of her lengths will be swum indoors she also plans to clock up some of her mileage in open water.

Speaking to the News Letter yesterday after swimming her second mile in support of Women’s Aid NI, Cara said: “I’ve done two days so far, both of them were in swimming pools – the first in Coleraine, then in the Olympia in Belfast.”

Today Cara is planning to do half a mile in the pool and another half a mile in open water (temperature dependent).

The SDLP MLA from Portrush said: “I’ve been getting up at 6am because I start work at nine. I go into the pool at 6.30am or 7am and just go flat out – 65 lengths (the equivalent of a mile). Maybe every 10 lengths I’ll have a wee drink then get back in.

“I do breaststroke the whole time and just keep her lit.

“Between the first day and the second day I dropped a minute off my time so hopefully it will continue to get easier each day.

“It’s definitely a shock to the system. I enjoy swimming but I wouldn’t be a swimmer so to speak.

“I find it a bit of challenge as well which is why I wanted to do this.

“We all do our 5Ks, our 10Ks, but swimming is a little bit different.

“I really admire anyone who goes swimming on a daily basis.”

Discussing open water swimming she said: “I tried it in the swimsuit but I think I’m going to go for the wetsuit from here on in. I very much like all 10 of my fingers and wouldn’t want to lose one of them to the cold.”

Cara has taken on the challenge to raise funds for Women’s Aid NI: “What got me thinking about this is the way that domestic abuse in the Christmas period tends to spike.

“We’re entering a new year now, there’s an abundance of support that Women’s Aid can offer.

“Being an MLA I’ve seen first hand how they’ve helped very vulnerable people.

“Their staff are exceptional. I wanted to use the opportunity to highlight the service, we’re very blessed to have them.”

Cara added: “I’m so taken aback, people have gone above and beyond. Business have offered donations to help people in need, there’s open water swimming groups who have invited me to join them.

“I didn’t think it was going to get this much attention or donations. I only set the target at £200.

“Everybody has been exceptionally generous.”

The total has passed £1,000 in two days. To donate go to gofundme.com

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