This Sunday, 11th March 2018, will be an important day in the Irish open water swimming calendar, a day to acknowledge the achievements of swimmers and contributors during the 2017 season as well as to honour the lifetime achievements of members of the Irish open water swimming community. We will mark these at the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association‘s (ILDSA) Annual Awards and the inaugural induction ceremony of the Hall of Fame – Marathon Swimming Ireland (HoF-MSI), which will be held at the Waterside House Hotel near Donabate in Fingal (North County Dublin), a fitting location on the edge of the Irish sea and looking out at Lambay Island.
After lunch in the Lambay Suite, the awards and induction ceremonies will get underway. To get things started, there will be a welcome address by the Deputy Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Adrian Henchy (FF), after which I will take over as master of ceremonies for the rest of the afternoon. The fact that I’ve been trusted with this duty surely means that I didn’t do too bad a job when I hosted the awards in 2012!
First will be the presentation of medals to all swimmers born or resident on the island of Ireland who successfully completed English Channel crossings in 2017. Carol Finlay, Participation Officer of Swim Ireland, and Maggie Purcell, President of Swim Ireland, will present the medals for solo and relay swims, respectively. Medals will then be presented to all swimmers who successfully completed North Channel Swims in 2017, with medals for solo swims being presented by Billy Wallace, President of the ILDSA, and medals for relay swims being presented by Cllr Henchy and Eoin Gaffney of Leinster Open Sea.
Following the presentation of the English Channel and North Channel medals, we will move on to the presentation of the ILDSA Awards for the 2017 season, which will be presented by Maggie Purcell, President of Swim Ireland. The following is a list of the awards that will be presented:
- Senior Best Newcomer to Open Water Swimming given to a swimmer who was new to open water swimming.
- Juvenile Best Newcomer to Open Water Swimming given to a swimmer who was new to open water swimming.
- Best Organised Open Water Swim given to an event which has been held in any given year that best represented open water swimming events.
- Leinster Open Water Swimmer of the Year given to a swimmer from Leinster who has best represented open water swimming.
- Ted Keenan Ulster Open Water Swimmer of the Year given to a swimmer from Ulster who has best represented open water swimming.
- Páraic Casey Munster Open Water Swimmer of the Year given to a swimmer from Munster who has best represented open water swimming.
- Connaught Open Water Swimmer of the Year given to a swimmer from Connaught who has best represented open water swimming.
- Open Water Swim Performance of the Year given to a swimmer whose performance stands out in the Irish open water community.
- Sheena Patterson Spirit of Open Water Swimming given to a person who, through their selfless contribution stands out in the Irish open water community.
- Margaret Smith Award given to a person or group of people who increased the profile of open water swimming.
- Juvenile Swimmer of the Year given to an 18-year-old or under swimmer who has best represented open water swimming (aged 18 years before the 31st December ).
- Senior Swimmer of the Year Male given to a male swimmer who has best represented open water swimming.
- Senior Swimmer of the Year Female given to a female swimmer who has best represented open water swimming.
Between the various medal and award presentations, four speakers will offer us unique insights into different challenges in our sport. Wes Nolan, Ion Lazarenco and Ned Denison will offer us a swimmer’s perspective, while veteran North Channel pilot Brian Meharg MBE will give us a pilot’s slant on things.
The final part of the proceedings will be a very special event: the inaugural induction ceremony of the HoF-MSI. The Class of 2018 will be inducted by Billy Wallace and Ned Denison, who are both Honorees of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (Classes of 1999 and 2012, respectively). The Honour Swimmers and Contributors that will be inducted are:
- Honour Swimmer Chris Bryan
- Honour Swimmer Lisa Cummins
- Honour Swimmer Kieran Fitzgerald
- Honour Swimmer Jack McClelland (posthumously)
- Honour Swimmer Deirdre Ward
- Honour Contributor Eilís Burns, Coach
- Honour Contributor Martin Cullen, Administrator (posthumously)
- Honour Contributor Brian Meharg MBE, Pilot
- Honour Contributor Quinton Nelson, Pilot
Just in case that wasn’t enough silverware for everybody, there will be one final presentation. The afternoon’s ceremonies will close with the presentation of a “Special Award”, about which I know precisely naught, so I am sure that we will all be eager to find out whom its recipient will be and wherefore…
- Places for the lunch and awards can be booked here.
- For those traveling by public transport, there will be a shuttle bus service from Dublin City Centre to the venue and back again.