Race Review: Great Wicklow 10 km Swim

Photograph – Dymphna Morris

Some of the swimmers getting ready for the start in Greystones… (Photograph: Dymphna Morris)

This year has seen many new additions to the Irish open water swimming calendar. Among these new swims was the Great Wicklow 10 km Swim | Snámh Mhór Chill Mhantáin, which took place on Sunday, 22 September. This was a tide assisted swim between the towns of Bray and Greystones on Ireland’s east coast. Ger Kennedy and the rest of the team did a fantastic job with the organisation of this event and are continuing to think big about expanding the event for next year and also running other events in Dublin and the surrounding area. I look forward to taking part in one or more of these events myself!

Conditions on the day were best described as “mixed”. It was a warm, sunny, dry day on the east coast and we had a favourable tide assisting us in our point-to-point swim from Bray south to Greystones. However, there was a stiff southeasterly breeze which was about the worst direction that it could be coming from! Times were still faster than a 10 km in still water, though – I finished in 2 hours 18 minutes. I don’t think that I swam particularly well in this race but I did win the male non-wetsuit category so was happy enough. It was a fun day out, in any case, especially with four Cork swimmers – Carol Cashell, Eoin O’Riordan, Liz Buckley and myself – taking part. Carol did a very good write-up on the swim so I’ll just direct you to that (link below) instead of writing my own…

Related Articles:

Another quick update…

Last Saturday, I took part in my favourite open water event, the Lee Swim in Cork City centre. This year, great organisation and some amazing weather combined to make it the best Lee Swim yet! I started in the second group with Crosóige Mara teammate Carol Cashell and Fermoy-via-Florida swimmer Canice Condon. I caught most of the people in the first group and finished the 2 km in a time of 24 minutes 47 seconds. I placed joint sixth/seventh, ahead of some top-class swimmers like Tom Healy, Maeve Ryan, Rachel Lee and Penny Palfrey! It was a great day made even better by meeting some old and new friends starting the Cork Distance Week. I will have a proper write up on the event when I get a chance to do some writing next week…

Photograph – Carol Cashell

The Crosóige Mara team and Lisa Cummins swimming off Shakespeare Beach, Dover. (Photograph: Carol Cashell)

For now, I’m in a mobile home in St. Margaret’s-at-Cliffe near Dover waiting for the wind to die down before I and the rest of the Crosóige Mara team can attempt our English Channel 2-way relay. As it was just before my solo in September 2009, there is scorching weather at home but the weather isn’t so good in the Channel. However, Saturday isn’t looking too bad at the moment so it’s a possible swim day. I’ll do one more update on this whenever we get the go-ahead to swim…

Race Review: GaddinAbtGarnish 2013

With my Round Jersey solo approaching, I’ve been trying to up my training mileage over the last few weeks. Over the last fortnight, this has been made a lot easier by a spell of great weather (by Irish standards). College exams out of the way, I managed 33.4 km for the last week of May, including a great 2-hour swim from Fermoy Rowing Club to Castlehyde House, Michael Flatley’s “Irish residence”, and back. Last week, I managed to increase this to 45.4 km, only 13.3 km of this was in the pool (with Fermoy SC) and the remaining 32.1 km was in the open water (mostly in the River Blackwater but also in Ballycroneen, Knockananig Reservoir and Glengarriff). The highlight of the week had to be the annual GaddinAbtGarnish swim in Glengarriff on Saturday…

Photograph – Ossi Schmidt

The crowd of 120 swimmers ready for the briefing at GaddinAbtGarnish 2013 (Photograph: Ossi Schmidt).

Garnish Island (Irish: Oileán an Chuilinn) is a small island in Glengarriff Harbour, a very sheltered inlet off Bantry Bay, West Cork. There were three options for the swim: 1 km (out and back), 3 km (out, once around and back) or 5 km (out, twice around and back). I did the 5 km swim, as I had done in 2011 and 2012. Conditions were ideal – it was hot and sunny and there was hardly a puff of wind. The water was also very clear. Despite the perfect conditions, I was unsure of how I’d perform as it had been a long week to this point and I remembered very well how I struggled around the course last year. The first 500 m of the swim would tell a lot!

There was hardly any fighting at the start, unlike previous years, and a group of three of us pulled away almost immediately. Alex Rathke of UCD Swimming & Water Polo, formerly of Dolphin SC, took the lead while I drafted off of Oran Kane, Killarney. The pace seemed fine out to the first buoy so I felt happy to leave Alex off and sit in behind Oran for the rest of the swim and try to pass him before the finish. Oran seemed to have major goggles issues (for once it wasn’t me with the goggle disorder) at about 800 m so I decided to head off in front of him. At the first corner of the island (about 1 km in) I noticed that Alex had taken a bad line and gone very wide – think my line was pretty good as I had to dolphin over a reef but didn’t get cut!

Over the next 1 km or so, Alex caught up to me but didn’t pass me at the third corner. At this point, we were heading in a straight line back to the buoy at the 500 m mark, but the sun was in our eyes and it was hard to navigate. Alex knew that I’d done the swim before so stuck with me as he figured I’d have some idea of where to go. Oran was behind getting a nice double draft all the while! I eventually spotted the buoy and rounded it as instructed in the pre-race briefing, as did Alex and Oran. However, on rounding the buoy (and politely asking a kayaker blocking the way to move), I spotted at least two white caps rounding the first corner of the island – this made no sense as all of the 3 km swimmers should be well on the other side of the island and, assuming that everyone followed the correct course, there should be no 5 km swimmers in front of us. It soon became clear that the two were 5 km swimmers, Ned Denison and possibly Warren Roche, who had decided to take a shortcut along the side of the island…

The pace picked up a bit for the second lap – Alex took a lead on me and I pulled away from Oran. Alex still didn’t venture too far away for nearly another 1 km, it seems he still needed some guidance on the course! At the 3.5 km mark, though, he started to pull away and I could see him catch Ned and some of the 3 km swimmers. It was long before I did the same myself, swimming over Ned’s legs a few times just to let him know that I was there and that he’d been caught cheating!

At the third corner, I was still able to see Alex and could also see Warren Roche just ahead of me. Having caught Warren, who also seemed unsure of the correct path, I kept a good eye on Alex’s position and could see him taking a bad line again – he went way off to the left and I managed to reach the buoy before him. With a lot of swimmers in the area, I lost sight of him and so sprinted the last 500 m back to the slipway. To my surprise, I was the first of the 5 km swimmers to finish and did so in 1 hour 8 minutes 24 seconds – definitely a new personal best 5 km time! Not long afterwards, Alex and Warren finished together (not quite at the slipway but close enough). Ned was next in wondering why the rest of us had taken “such a bad line” and he was followed very shortly by Oran.

Photograph – Ossi Schmidt

Me exiting the water at the end of GaddinAbtGarnish 2013 (Photograph: Ossi Schmidt).

It was a great race in amazing scenery. It was a treat to finish a 5 km sea swim warm and be in no rush to get changed. On getting out, I met Dave Mulcahy and Declan O’Keeffe, both Fermoy SC, who had finished their 3 km swim. I also met Mary McEvoy, Gina Lyons, Adam Blaiklock, Niamh Fleming and James Slowey, all from Fermoy, who had finished their swims. Iain and Ciara MacCallum, Fermoy also, both finished their 3 km just after me. Ciara had originally planned to do the 1 km but was feeling good after the Fastnet Triathlon in Schull that morning so decided to do the 3 km! I got a bit worried that there was still no sign of Paul Noonan, also Fermoy SC, who was also doing the 3 km and should have been out well before me. I hung around for a while and he eventually should up, having “accidentally” swum the 5 km instead, his previous longest open water swim being 2 km! Well done to everyone from Fermoy who took part, it was great to see both Fermoy SC and Blackwater Tri Club so well represented.

Other great points about the swim included seeing a few big moon jellies (a very welcome sign that the water is warming up), clean clear water in a beautiful setting, seeing lots of starfish on the seaweed (maybe a good sign for the Crosóige Mara relay in July) and top class kayak and RIB support. Well done again to Ossi and Imelda on organising a great event, I’m looking forward to next year already!