24-hour delay…


A 2-person relay team called Dragão do Mar from the Northeast of Brazil had just begun their Leme to Pontal swim last night when unforeseen thick fog set in. Unfortunately, this meant that their swim had to be aborted for safety reasons. They will try again tonight, i.e. in the early hours of tomorrow morning. Thankfully, Monday still looks swimmable, so my swim should only be postponed by 24 hours. Keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for confirmation…

Good news from Rio!

Since arriving in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday morning, I have been enjoying leisurely swims at Copacabana and meeting some of the regulars there, as well as some of the other swimmers taking on the Leme to Pontal challenge, including Sabrina Mazzola (who completed the swim on Monday) and Thiago Toshio Rebollo (who completed the swim this morning in 7:02:34, setting a new record).

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My first morning dip with Equipe Navegantes at Posto 6, Copacabana.

I’ve also been keeping a close eye on the weather and staying in contact with Adherbal Treidler de Oliveira, secretary of the Leme to Pontal Swimming Association. This afternoon, it was confirmed that my swim will go ahead this Sunday (17th December) at 1:00 am local time (that’s 3:00 am Irish time). All the crew is assembled in Rio now so we’re almost ready for the off!

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All the crew finally in the one place!

The link to track the swim on a map is track.rs/owenrj and my sister, Amy, will be tweeting in English (and a bit in Irish) from my own Twitter account @owenswims93. If you would rather get updates in Portuguese, you can follow my boyfriend, Wagner, on his Twitter account @wsshernandes and also the Leme to Pontal Swimming Association’s Facebook page. They’ll do their best to keep the tracker functioning and keeping everyone updated on progress…


Delighted with this early Christmas present that the Hernandes family sent for me to use during the swim!

Here we go!!! #partiupontal #owenswimsBR

Counting down the days!

A long year of training is finally over and I’m now just a week out from heading off to Rio for my 35 km swim from Leme to Pontal. It’s been a struggle at times, but at last I’m feeling both physically and mentally ready. Last Sunday morning, I had my last sea swim in Ireland for this year: a leisurely lap of Sandycove Island with friends and training buddies, followed by the customary confectionery…


A total of 47 swimmers swam at Sandycove last Sunday and, despite the water temperature being between 10ºC and 11ºC, about half swam a full lap of the island without wetsuits!

This week is my last week of training and it will be an easy one to ensure that I stay injury-free before arriving in Rio, so my real challenge for this week will be to try to stay motivated at work while I can do little other than visualise the swim!

Over the next week and a bit, I will be posting details of how you can follow the swim in real time. So keep an eye out for those…

A new challenge for 2017

I know, I know, I managed to let another whole year [and a bit] slip past without so much as a peep on the blog. As many are already aware, I spent the last three years focusing on finishing my BSc in ecology and settling into working life – as an actual ecologist, would you believe – and, just maybe, being a bit lazy… However, 2017 has arrived and that affliction that all who are swimmers have, that visceral desire to be in the water is too much to bear: I need to swim!

After last year’s trip to Brazil in September and seeing her seemingly infinite and stunningly beautiful coastline with its long, sandy beaches, huge, rounded limestone boulders, verdant slopes of Atlantic forest and the deep blue South Atlantic, I knew that it would be hard to resist at least a few marathon swims along that coast. So, a few weeks ago, I found a pool near where I work in Dublin and started training, still not entirely sure for what…

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Waking up to this view of Praia dos Anjos in Arraial do Cabo, where Amerigo Vespucci landed in 1503, it’s hard not to imagine swimming here… (Image: Owen O’Keefe)

Aware of the potential difficulties in arranging a completely new swim, I decided that it was best to book an established swim, one for which “all” I would have to do would be to fill in the forms, pay the fees and train. One swim in particular jumped straight out at me: Leme to Pontal, a coastal swim of 35 km. This swim is the same distance as the English Channel, starting at Praia do Leme in Leme, Copacabana and passing all of the oceanic beaches and sites of the city of Rio de Janeiro before finishing at Praia do Pontal in Recreio dos Bandeirantes, Barra da Tijuca (see the interactive map below).

I’ve already secured my window with the Leme to Pontal Swimming Association for the week of the 16th to 22nd December 2017. All I have to do now is to keep up the training and start re-acclimatising to the sea! I will try to keep the blog reasonably up to date with my progress and any other news, so keep an eye out here for intermittent updates and on Facebook, Instagram or maybe even Twitter for more frequent ones…

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Back in the Blackwater under Grandad‘s watchful eye last weekend…

More to come soon!