Ray took up long distance swimming in 1964 is now 87 years old and although born in Folkestone, Kent, first came to his native (and much beloved) Derry, 70 years ago where he was then based in Ballykelly. Ray was then a submariner “as was his lifelong friend, mentor and pioneer of long distance swimming, Commander Gerald Fosberg.
Ray went on to become a saturation diver and worked all over the world including the North Sea, The South China Sea and the English Channel.
Ray still claims to this day that he must be the only man living that, when it comes to the English Channel, he has ” worked at the bottom”; “Went by, train, Submarine, Plane, and swam it”
Ray also owns and would carry out salvage for many years on the wreck of the bullion ship, RMS Laurentic.
Ray was the first swimmer from Ireland to complete the English Channel in 1970 in 13 hours 41 minutes. He led the way for all the others! Ray completed other epic marathons: Lough Swilly Buncranna to Portsalon 17 miles in 7 hours, Portrush to Greencastle 19 miles in 8 hours, Derry to Moville 20 miles in 6 hours and 51 minutes, Windermere 10.5 miles in 7 hours and 30 minutes and Lough Neagh width 9 miles in 6 hrs.
Ray also completed epics swims below the marathon distance of 10k which were historically important: 1964 to 1970 Lough Swilly, Rathmullan to Buncranna 5 Miles – 11 times and Rathlin Rue Point to Ballycastle.
Ray contributed to the sport for many years as the coach on the 1978 Irish under 16 channel relay team which broke the existing world record with a time of 8 hours and 40 minutes. This record would stand for a further 18 years. In the same year Ray accompanied two of the team to Syria to complete in the 20k Jableh to Latakia swim. Ray spent a full year at this training and fund raising. This was a cross community team and the achievement was recognised In Dublin at a reception given in the American embassy attended by politicians across the political divide.
He is still also a Vice President of the Channel Swimming Association.