The Wait is Over!

Good news! The pilot for our 2-way English Channel relay, Mike Oram, called this morning to confirm that we will be meeting him in Dover Marina at midnight tonight with a view to starting our swim for about 1:00 am tomorrow. We’re all packed now and ready to go!

Photograph – Lisa Cummins

The Team! (left-to-right: Caitlin Desmond, Maeve Ryan, Eoin O’Riordan, Owen O’Keefe, Lynne Donnelly, Carol Cashell)

You can follow our progress on Twitter @CrosoigeMara and on our Facebook page. You can also track the boat on or on the CS&PF website. Don’t forget that we are doing the swim in aid of Down Syndrome Ireland and you can donate via our iDonate page. I’ll update when we’re done…

CS&PF Dinner 2013

After crewing for four English Channel attempts this year, three of them Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation swims, I decided that I’d go to the annual CS&PF Dinner. The dinner took place in Dover Town Hall on Saturday, 2 March 2013.

I travelled over with Lisa Cummins, who completed her historic 2-way crossing in the two days before my own swim. Before arriving in Dover, we called in to visit David & Evelyn Frantzeskou at Varne Ridge Holiday Park. David & Evelyn’s hospitality is famous among Channel swimmers, particularly those from Ireland. They have a grassy area right on the cliff, from which you can see the French coast. In November, a new bench was placed here in memory of Páraic Casey. It’s an ideal place to sit and reflect on the challenge of swimming the Channel. Part of the Varne Ridge experience is the raising of your country’s flag when you get back from your successful swim and having your name added to the Wall with the names all other successful swimmers who have stayed there…

Photograph – Owen O'Keefe

A section of the wall at Varne Ridge Holiday Park, a favourite spot for Channel swimmers…

Examining the new plaques on the Wall is always great to waste some time. In the photo above, you can see a selection of the 2009 swimmers, including Andrea Gellan (SCO) who trained at the Cork Distance Week, Lisa Cummins (IRE), Liane Llewellyn-Hickling (GBR), Owen O’Keefe (IRE), Julie Galloway-Farrell (TEX-IRE) and Dairmuid Boyle (IRE). We are all very luck to be on the patch of wall as Trent Grimsey (AUS) who broke the World Record with his 6 hour 55 minute swim on 8 September 2012.

Before heading to the Dinner, we met up with other Channel swimming junkies over from Ireland: Donal Buckley and his partner Dee, Ned Denison and Fionnuala Walsh. There was also a mandatory trip to the White Horse pub where successful swimmers get to sign their names on the wall, if they can find a space, that is!

On arrival in what is surely one of Dover’s finest buildings, the Town Hall, we met very many familiar faces from the last few years and put some faces to names (as I explained in my guest post on, the open water swimming community is close-knit with most of us knowing each other online but not having a clue what we look like)! As well as meeting a lot of past Channel swimmers, we were also introduced to all of this season’s CS&PF swimmers through this video:

Ireland did very well in the awards this year: Tom Healy (Dublin) was award the Des Renford Award for the “most meritorious swim of the year by a man” and Fionnuala Walsh (Clare) was awarded the Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club Award for the “most successful swim against all odds”. Trent Grimsey was, naturally enough, awarded the “Eurotunnel” Trophy for the “fastest CS&PF swim of the year”.

It was a fantastic occasion. Well done to Michelle and Emma who organised the whole evening, they did a great job! I’m looking forward to next year…

Sandycove Island SC at the CWSC in Tooting Bec

Logo – SLSCThere was a pretty big contingent from Sandycove Island SC at the UK Cold Water Swimming Championships in Tooting Bec Lido, South London last weekend. All of the Sandycove swimmers did us proud and came home with a total of four gold medals and one bronze medals for the Club. This meant that the Club came in second place overall, according to the ranking system used, ahead of the well-known Serpentine SC from Central London, headed by CS&PF President, Nick Adams! The “Goats” were surpassed only by hosts South London SC. Water temperatures for the event were never more than 2ºC and our swimmers did very well under these conditions. Some members of the Irish contingent also faired well in the “silly hat” competition. Well done, everyone!

My 2013 Plans

It’s a fairly quiet week and, to be honest, I can’t think of anything to write about. So to fill the gap, and maybe to put some pressure on myself, here’s a quick summary of my main goals for the 2013 season.

Assuming that the race is run under the same tidal conditions as it was last year, I’d love to complete the “Vibes & Scribes” Lee Swim in under 24 minutes. In theory, the swim is 2 km, though there is sometimes a little tidal assistance. I came a reasonably respectable 3rd with a time of 24:07.5 last year – I didn’t do a whole lot of training last year so I should be able to improve on this.

Logo – Maeve Ryan

Crosóige Mara Channel Relay Team 2013

The day after the Lee Swim, I’m heading to Dover with Crosóige Mara for our 2-way English Channel relay attempt in aid of Down Syndrome Ireland. Most of us on the team swim at about 4 km/h in the open water so we are hoping to complete the swim in 24 hours (or under) and, in doing so, break the Irish 2-way relay record of 24 hours 4 minutes. I’m really looking forward to this!

While the rest of the team head home after the relay, I will stay in London to wait for a call to go to Jersey for my solo circumnavigation attempt. The Round Jersey swim is, technically, a 65 km swim. However, the swim is heavily tide assisted and a lot of swimmers tend to get faster times for this swim than they do for their English Channel swims. I’m hoping to complete the swim in under 10 hours – and beat Ned‘s time!

I might have one or two other long swims lined up for August but nothing’s confirmed yet. In September, I plan to do my first overseas race, the 6.5 km Marnaton series swim in Cadaqués, Northern Catalonia. I speak virtually no Spanish and even less Catalan, so thankfully, Mauricio and the gang from have offered to translate all of the race instructions for me!

August could be interesting, so keep an eye on the blog for updates…