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…

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 OWSwimming.com, 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…