Swim reconfirmed!

The thick sea mist that cancelled my swim yesterday has lifted and today I received a message from the Leme to Pontal Swimming Association reconfirming my swim for tomorrow morning (starting at 3:00 am Irish time). All of the details that I gave in my original post announcing the start are still valid, apart from the 24-hour delay, obviously… Let’s go!!!

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

Time to meet the crew

Despite the heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures of the last two days, we finally made it as far as Frankfurt, Germany. As we are sitting here in the airport, trying to kill time while waiting for our flight to Rio tonight, I think that now is as good a time as any to introduce my support team for my upcoming Leme to Pontal swim. Apart from the pilot, his/her crew and the official observer from the Leme to Pontal Swimming Association, my support team is as follows:

IMGP4216Spearheading the operation will be my boyfriend, Wagner Hernandes, who has supported me for many of my training swims this summer, including my 6-hour qualifying swim at Sandycove during the Cork Distance Week. He helped to keep myself and a dozen or so other swimmers fed and encouraged for that particular swim, so managing my feeds etc. during Leme to Pontal will be no bother to him! Wagner will also manage communication between myself and the support boat.

WylliamI’m delighted that Wagner’s brother, Wylliam, will also be able to join us for this swim. Wylliam is studying nutritional sciences in his and Wagner’s hometown of Campos dos Goytacazes, in the north of the State of Rio de Janeiro, so he will be carefully observing to make sure that I am getting the most from my feeding plan. Wylliam will also be sending out some of the updates (in Portuguese) for those watching online.

AmyAnd last but certainly not least, my sister, Amy, will also be on the boat and will be doing an undoubtedly fantastic job of managing the GPS tracker and social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (I will post links to exactly which accounts she will be posting from once we’ve decided them). I’m very happy that this will be Amy’s first experience of crewing for a marathon swim and I hope that she will see for herself how beautiful our sport is.

Once we are all together in Rio (which will be this Friday, all going well) and have our plan of action finalised, I will share all of the details of how you can keep track of the swim (and might even be able to give an indication of the actual start day and time). It’s getting real now!

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…

“What date is the swim?”

A lot of people have been asking me about the date of my Leme to Pontal swim and some are a bit confused by why there isn’t yet a fixed date, so I thought I’d write a quick aside to explain the reason for this…

My swim window is 16-22 December and this is fixed. The reason for booking a seven-day window rather than a single date is that the swim requires reasonably calm sea conditions for the best part of a day, something that, given the local climate and exposed nature of the route, cannot be guaranteed for any given day at the time of booking the swim, which is often months or even years beforehand. So, booking seven days rather than just one means that I have a much better chance of actually getting to swim.

From the day I arrive in Rio, I will be in regular contact with the Leme to Pontal Swimming Association to discuss weather forecasts and should be able to confirm the actual date and time that I will start the swim a day or two in advance. Keep an eye out for updates!

On the home stretch!

Artigo em português

Only 36 days to go?! Really?! How?!

All of a sudden, the swallows have disappeared, the summer is a distant memory and I’m in the final phase of my training for Leme to Pontal. My last open water training swim in Ireland was a 2 km dash in and out of the sea in Myrtleville on the October bank holiday and I’m now full-time in the full for the final push.

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Myrtleville on the morning of my last non-wetsuited open water swim in Ireland for the year.

With the goal that I’ve been working (and, at times, struggling) towards in sight, it’s become much easier to train. Getting up early to go for my pre-work pool session no longer requires discipline; it just happens, automatically; panic gets me up and out before I even get to think about taking a lazy morning. There’s nothing like a deadline!

This week and next week, I am doing big-ish metres in the pool, and then I will start tapering down for the big event…

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!