Words by Maureen McCoy
Photography by Paul McCambridge
Jetty sits close to Ely Lodge Forest and, surrounded by trees makes a picturesque start to a swim. An early morning dip before the touring boats began to come in was the order of the day. I dived in to the dark water, surprisingly warm, and rose into sun glinting off the surface. Tiny fish, silver flashes as they streaked away from me, suddenly to stop and hang in the water, nose down tail up, as if dying, only to sprint away again when I approached. Entranced, I watched as groups of three to five “spricks” would do this repeatedly. Then below I spied some slightly larger fish – perhaps this was a game of hunting and survival I was witness to. How many levels of bigger fish would I encounter? Glad of my choice to wear a bright swimsuit, still I kept my toes high in the water, just in case.
The fish parted as I swam from the jetty, following the depth markers I kept to the edge of the main channel, exploring safely away from any boat traffic, but in the early morning there was no interruption to my swim. I returned through the still quiet morning to climb the ladder and dry in the strengthening sun.
Couch to 5k Programme ’18
Words Maureen McCoy
2018’s Couch to 5km Swim Programme ran throughout June and July with this summer treating us to extraordinarily good weather with clear skies, calm conditions and warm waters.
Over the past two months almost 50 swimmers have taken on the challenge of building their swim skills, technique and endurance towards competing in the ILDSA Lough Erne Championship event held on the 4th August.
Several of the swimmers had never ventured into open water before, some were learning a new stroke – Front Crawl, and others had the goal of improving their skills, confidence and endurance in open water.
Coaches and mentors Maureen McCoy, Kealan and Paul McCambridge from SWIMFREE Outdoor Swimming Association, have worked with each of the swimmers to improve technique, ensure their safety and guide them through the various challenges swimming outdoors can raise, ultimately preparing for the ILDSA Lough Erne event.
The culmination of their hard work was this Saturday when 30 of the Couch to 5k Swimmers completed the full 5 kilometre distance and 10 completed the Ted Keenan Mile swim.
When all swimmers were safely and happily home, the ladies of Cootehill, Cavan and thereabouts played their final card – a picnic to rival all picnics! Alongside training and focusing on their own swims the ladies laid on the most wonderful spread of salads, cold cuts and cakes, all washed down with sparkling elderflower cordial… !
Swimmers took part in the Couch to 5k Swim Programme for many reasons and to mention one local man; Stephen Cooper of Enniskillen has been raising funds for Breast Cancer research. To date Stephen has raised just over £2500.
If you would like to donate;
SWIMFREE coaches and organisers would like to thank WATERWAYS IRELAND for their sponsorship and support of the programme. SHARE Discovery Village, for providing a fantastic venue, friendly and helpful staff. ILDSA for facilitating Couch to 5k Swimmers and Swim Ireland for providing swim caps to the participants.
The ILDSA has been running the Lough Erne 17km Irish Championship for over 25 years with the longer 25km distance added several years ago, both are “Skins” (ie non-wetsuit) swims, more recently adding 10k and 5k distances and this year was the first of the Ted Keenan Mile Swim.
Couch to 5k Swimmers Results
Female Skins Male Skins
1st Chrissy Lunny 1st Tim Fagan
2nd Polly Lyons 2nd Podge McKeon
3rd Therese Macseain 3rd Ray Smith
Female Wetsuit Male Wetsuit
1st Nicola Burchmore 1st Lee York
2nd Ruth Durham 2nd Stephen Cooper
3rd Jenny Elliott York 3rd Colm Connaughton
Well done all!