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This June, lifelong friends and former rugby players Damian Browne and Fergus Farrell will attempt to row 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean together from New York to Galway.

Former Connacht and Leinster lock Damian Browne is no stranger to the agonies and ecstasies offered up on the water; back in 2018, he rowed solo east to west across the Southern North Atlantic and ultimately arrived to the island of Antigua to a hero’s welcome.

He is well acquainted with physically enduring quests; the Covid-19 pandemic recently delayed his plans to conquer the highest peaks in all seven continents of the world.

He is now bidding to become one of a select few to successfully row across the Atlantic Ocean in both directions, however he will not be alone as he sets out on this expedition.

Fergus Farrell represented Connacht at U18, U19 and U20 level while he was also capped for the Irish Youths at U18 level.

It was subsequent to his playing days that Fergus faced his biggest test, however. In 2018, an accident in his back garden resulted in him rupturing three spinal discs, one of which leaked onto his spinal cord and almost shredded it entirely.

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On this week’s episode of The Left Wing, Will Slattery and Luke Fitzgerald are joined by former Leinster and Connacht second row Damian Browne to discuss his epic 4,800km solo row across the Atlantic ocean.Damian set off from the Canary Islands and 63 days later set foot on dry land in Antigua. He tells Luke and Will of the tough fitness regime he underwent to prepare for his marathon feat, and how his first day turned into a disaster.He also reveals the mental and physical struggles of navigating across the ocean on your own, and opens up on the challenges of acclimatizing back to normal life after spending so long at sea.Luke also talks about his toughest ever training session and match as a professional rugby player.

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Leinster are prepared to sign former Connacht lock Damien Browne as a replacement for Nathan Hines, who will leave the province at the end of the season.

Browne (pictured in Northampton colours above), who currently plays for French outfit Brive, is out of contract with the French side in the summer and is set to return to Ireland having left Connacht seven seasons ago to join Aviva Premiership side Northampton Saints.

According to the Irish Independent this morning, Leinster set their sights on Browne once it became clear that former Perpignan second row Hines is to return to France next season to join Joe Schmidt’s former side Clermont Auvergne.

The former Ireland under-21 international, brother of current Connacht forward Andrew, has spent the last three seasons with Brive and although he did not feature in the Amlin Challenge Cup defeat to Munster at the weekend due to a back injury, he is in line to play against Biarritz in the Top 14 this weekend

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Solo rower Damian Browne has completed the Atlantic Challenge rowing race.
The former Leinster and Connacht lock came through the strong winds and strong currents in English Harbour to finish his row after 63 days, six hours and 25 minutes at sea.

He finished the incredible journey at 9.30pm Irish time on Wednesday.

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Over two months after leaving San Sebastián for Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua, the 37-year-old docked his boat after a gruelling voyage.

Browne was rowing for the cause of his chosen charities Médecins Sans Frontieres, MADRA Dog Rescue & Adoption and the Strong Roots Foundation School Rwanda.

The Galway man came through fierce adversity at various stages during the race, suffering some serious facial injuries along the way.

But surviving is his game and it would take something serious to stop this insanely driven man from achieving his goals.

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DAY 1: FLY TO MOSCOW Depart Dublin in the evening and arrive in Moscow in the early morning. Overnight flight. DAY 2: MOSCOW TO OSH (1,000M) Enjoy a free day to explore Moscow at your leisure. In the evening we take an overnight flight and arrive in Osh in the early morning. Most of the day is free to relax

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The Freezbrury Fundraiser Challenge for Milford Hospice funds has been taken on by Limerick students Mike Ryan, from Castletroy and Jack Henchy, Ballyneety.

Former professional rugby player turned adventurer Damien Browne created the original idea for the Freezbrury fundraiser. The concept consists of the participants enduring discomfort for the benefit of a more significant cause, such as fundraising for a charity or organisation that badly needs financial support.

For the month of February, Mike and Jack must plunge into the icy sea every day, each day adding a minute extra to the duration spent enduring the cold currents. The rules for the Freezbrury Challenge consist of not wearing hats, gloves, boots, trainers etc. The aim is to be submerged in the water as far as the upper chest for the entire duration, and then one must immerse their head underwater fully at least once every time.

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During the month of February we participated in the Freezbrury Challenge. This challenge was created by Damien Browne aka Auld Stock, an Irish former professional Rugby player turned adventurer and world traveler. The challenge was quite simple but extremely difficult. The rules were as follows, the 1st of February meant spending 1 minute in open water with no protective gear or wet suits etc. The 2nd of February meant 2 minutes, 3rd February meant 3 minutes and so on and so forth until the final day on the 29th spending 29 minutes in open water. There was also a second option that wasn’t as extreme which was to spend 1 minute in open water everyday of February.

The main purpose of the challenge was to raise awareness and money for Pieta House. The second purpose of the challenge for the participants was that they pushed themselves mentally and physically everyday by getting into cold water during the coldest month of the year. The participants became known as ‘Freezberries’ as the challenge went on and resulted in strangers coming together to swim in lakes, rivers and the sea together. Open water swimming communities all around Ireland emerged and were all coming together supporting each other everyday online and in person. This was the true magic of the challenge as we met a lot of really cool and interesting people throughout the month.

In terms of the challenge itself it was extremely difficult especially considering we had at least 4 storms during the month. As the time in the water began to increase it became very time consuming and required a lot of planning to fit it into our day. Another challenge was the amount of washing we had to do!

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For the month of February the challenge is to immerse yourself into the Irish sea everyday of February and spend the corresponding minutes to the date, for example, 1 minute for day 1 , 2 minutes for day 2 and so on. Damian Browne ex professional rugby player and current Adventurer came up with the concept three years ago

to promote and encourage Irish winter sea swimming and highlight the challenges that come along with this lifestyle choice.

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Three Dublin lads who have decided to swim to raise money for mental health charities had a bit of trouble going for their daily dip with weather warnings in place over the weekend.

Dave Murray, Paul Henry and Ian Smith are participating in Freezbrury, a challenge where they go for a swim everyday for a number of minutes based on the date of the month; February 1st: one minute, February 2nd: two minutes, and eventually adding a minute everyday until 28 minutes at the end of the month.

The trio are among hundreds of swimmers up and down the coast who are doing Freezbrury to raise funds for Pieta House, the Samaritans, Shine a Light Suicide and Mental Health Awareness Group.

But over the weekend, it was too dangerous for them to go for their daily dip in aid of the charities, but that didn’t stop them from braving the ice cold water.

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