Paddy Conaghan, an 82-year-old from Co Donegal, has won gold in the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) Man of the Year Award. 

Conaghan, from Arranmore Island off Co Donegal, was awarded for his non-contiguous charity swim around Ireland starting and finishing on Arranmore Island.

The Irish swimmer raised over €104,400 for charity and swam more than 300 times during the stage swim, WOWSA said.

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WOWSA said its awards "celebrate individuals and offerings that embody the spirit of open water swimming and have positively impacted the community, showcasing their determination, fortitude, and sense of adventure."

Over 143 nominations were evaluated by the 94 members of the WOWSA Awards Voting Academy and narrowed down to 10 finalists in each category, hailing from 23 different countries.

More than 11,400 public votes were cast, with a 75% weighting from the WOWSA Academy and 25% from the general public, to determine the top three winners in each category.

Conaghan told RTÉ he never thought about awards and that he is no athlete, but he "put his whole heart into the challenges."

Elaine Grady, who runs the social media page 'Driving & Ducking around Ireland - Paddy's Adventure,' posted on February 7: "Bursting with pride, Paddy is so deserving of this award.

"As he said himself he didn't ever think about awards & that he is no athlete but he put his whole heart into the challenges.

"He has no idea what he is doing for open water swimming & mental health. He is an inspiration, a legend & a winner in everyone's eyes. So proud of Paddy & all that he has achieved." Bursting with...

Posted by Driving & Ducking around Ireland Paddy's Adventure on Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Conaghan has since embarked on another swim challenge to raise money for mental health charities across the country, including Mindspace Mayo, PIPS Suicide Prevention Ireland, Accessible Counseling Tullamore, and Lisheens House West Cork Suicide Prevention Service. He is also raising money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

He has already surpassed his target of €2,500, raising more than €7,300 since setting off on his journey on December 4.

Conaghan told Sky News last year that he decided to take on the fundraiser during winter to make it more challenging. 

"You're not going to get any money if you're enjoying yourself, are you?" he said.

You can support Conaghan's "Ducking and Driving Around Ireland - Paddy's Adventure" campaign online here.