ILDSA, Global Swim Series Awards – 2018 Season & Ireland Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame

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Female and Male Swimmers of the Year Lisa Cummins and Ion Lazarenco Tiron

Maureen McCoy, photography by Paul McCambridge

Saturday 9th February, 2019 at Belfast Castle

Outdoor Swimmers all over Ireland enjoy a good old get together and this year kicked off at Belfast Castle at lunch time, Saturday.

So much is shared on social media about our endeavours that we now feel we know the people we’ve never actually met so this annual event gives folk a chance to get a little spruced up and meet acquaintances they’ve been following, face to face, ask how it really felt, get inspiration and share their stories.

Between the presentations of awards each of the 4 speakers had a different story to tell. Speaking of their personal journeys, each tale had something that rang true for the crowd in the room.

Speakers:

Vanessa Dawes

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Vanessa Dawes explained how her swimming and art projects meld together. For her they are a combined entity; the research, gathering her group of helpers, and co-swimmers, reconnoitering the swims and finally the completion of her project.

Vanessa Dawes – length of Lough Mask, 2018

Marie Watson

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Marie Watson told us how she came from non-swimming to a world first, the swim to Fastnet Rock; 18km. Her journey started with learning the basics, swimming first in wet-suit then ditching that in favour of “skins” for the Fastnet swim.

Carol Cashel

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Carol Cashel made the transition from pool to open water with some trials on the way. Even coming from a competitive swimming background she said; “it was not easy…” In the beginning she hated it, no lanes to guide her, no blue line on the floor and other swimmers in “her space”. It took several swims to iron out the difficulties and, like each of us, she has learned valuable lessons from her failed swims. No swim is ever wasted and research and preparation are key;

“that’s what we do, as swimmers we are very stubborn – if we get an idea we will, to the best of our ability, just get on with it and get it done…”

Carol Cashel – circumnavigation of Bere Island, 2018

Lisa Cummins

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Lisa Cummins focused on her lessons learned from achievements over the years, from a 2-way English Channel solo in 2009 to a 2-lap Manhattan Island, 2018:

Lesson 1                Don’t train through injury – for the sake of a short rest period at the time of injury one could save oneself years of recurring problems

Lesson 2                Don’t be afraid to dream big – Planning a 2-way English Channel as her first channel attempt; “I felt with the work I’d put in that I’d swim across, then turn around and see what happens. At least I’d always have a 1-way… I didn’t realise at the time it was such a naïve way to think…”

Lesson 3                Not everything goes to plan

Lesson 4                Don’t try something new on the day

What’s next? “For now, I’m chilling out and doing shorter swims.”

Awards;

2019 ILDSA Award Winners List

Juvenile Best Newcomer                                                   Jack Bingham

(Sponsored by Bingo Bus)

Juvenile Best Newcomer Runner Up                          Sabian Kulczynski

(Sponsored by Bangor Boat)

Senior Best Newcomer                                                  Audrey Burkley

(Sponsored by Ei Travel Group)

Ted Keenan Ulster Swimmer of the Year                 Gary Knox

(Sponsored by Infinity Channel Swimming)

Páraic Casey Munster Swimmer of the Year          Lisa Cummins

(Sponsored by Wild Water Adventures)

Connaught Swimmer of the Year                                Fergal Madden

(Sponsored by Aqualine) 

Leinster Swimmer of the Year                                     Vanessa Daws

(Sponsored by Leinster Open Sea)

Best Organised Open Water Swim                                Liffey Swim

(Sponsored by Dublin City Council Events Section)

 Sheena Paterson Spirit of Open Water Swimming               Donaghadee Chunky Dunkers

(Sponsored by Swim Ireland)

Shane Moraghan Award Best Overseas Performance by an Irish Open Water/Marathon Swimmer

(Sponsored by Half Moon Swimming Club)                     Lisa Cummins

Margaret Smith Award                                                        Infinity Group

(Sponsored by Global Swim Series)

Open Water Swim Performance of the Year               Lisa Cummins

(Sponsored by Swim Ulster)

Junior Swimmer of the Year                                             Sabian Kulczynski

(Sponsored by New Wave Swim Buoy)

Female Senior Swimmer of the Year                             Lisa Cummins

(Sponsored by Pier 36)

Male Swimmer of the Year                                               Ion Lazarenco Tiron

(Sponsored by Pier 36)

 

Lisa Cummins: 

Páraic Casey Munster Swimmer of the Year – Shane Moraghan Award Best for Overseas Performance by an Irish Open Water/Marathon Swimmer – Female Swimmer of the Year 2018.

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Ion Lazarenzo Tiron:

 

Irish Open Water Swimmer of the year – Ireland Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame,

Seven Oceans Swimmer.

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He has also been nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for his #SwimOfPeace, Moldova.

“Believe in your dreams….my objective; the message of peace…I thought; if I do all these swims they will listen, and they did…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7PxMEC9hVk

8th person to complete the Oceans Seven and the first to complete each crossing on his 1st attempt.

The Irish Long Distance Swimming Association event couldn’t have happened without the help of so many people and sponsors. Thanks to Stephen Millar, Caroline Grierson, Anne-Louise Docherty, Heather Grierson, Joao Santos and Gary Knox to name but a few.

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After an evening meal and socializing a Stormont Hotel, Belfast, Sunday saw just a few souls brave the water at Helen’s Bay for a quick dip – a frosty but beautifully sunny morning.

Safe journey home to all!

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Thank you, Brian Meharg (Bangor Boats) author of Bangors’ first Children’s book; The Legend of Jenny Watt – for an impromptu book signing at the water’s edge.

http://bangorboat.com/jenny-watt-bangor-childrens-book/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iz5BAbyaLLQ

Couch to 5k Swim 2019

couch to 5k-2019

Coming to Lough Erne for the third year running!

The Couch to 5k Swim Programme over the past two years has seen swimmers of various levels from new to open water, to seasoned swimmers working on building their endurance and speed.

The 2019 format will consist of five fortnightly coached sessions focusing on swim technique, skills and building endurance towards the end goal of either The Ted Keenan Mile or 5k ILDSA open water events. Swimmers are free to choose whether to wear a wet-suit or not.

Sponsored by Waterways Ireland

The primary venue is Share Discovery Village, Lisnaskea

Dates and times to be finalised.

Coaches: Maureen McCoy, Paul McCambridge, Kealan McCambridge

Watch this space…

Info at swimfree4@gmail.com

Keem – Achill Island, County Mayo

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Words and Photos by Maureen McCoy

One of the most popular beaches on Achill Island although never over-crowded is the picturesque Keem. The first view of this strand set in a steep amphitheatre under the Benmore cliffs is from high above on the vertiginous road that winds up from Dooagh village. With the sun lighting up the deep water, the colours range from bright turquoise darkening to teal green against the vibrant bright green grass on the slopes of Benmore. Although a popular beach, Keem is never crowded and even at the height of tourist season you can find a quiet swim here.

It was from this strand that fishermen would launch their curraghs in search of Basking sharks, right up until the 1950’s. Swim around the rocks to the left of the beach where at low tide several secluded sandy coves are revealed. Family swimming.

Excerpt from Wild Swimming in Ireland 2016, ISBN 978-1-84889-280-4

Getting there; from Belfast take the M1 then A4 through Enniskillen and continue on to the N16 to Sligo. From Sligo take the N4 turning onto the N17 and heading towards Tobercurry and Charlestown. Just past Charlestown take the N5 to Castlebar, from here take the R311 to Newport then onto the N59. At Mulrany the R319 brings you over the bridge and onto Achill, follow this road right to the end and you arrive at Keem beach.

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Google maps; https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Keem+Beach/@53.967365,-10.1966858,16z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x485996667294571f:0x75ee86cee21e0970!8m2!3d53.9671631!4d-10.1928951

Trá an Doilin – Co Galway

Trá an Doilin – Carraroe Co Galway

Tra an Doilin 2

 

Words by Maureen McCoy, photos by Paul McCambridge

At the mouth of Galway bay, between Casla Bay and Greatman’s Bay lies one of the most extraordinary beaches in Ireland; Tra an Doilin, or the Coral Beach. Made not of sand but of millions of pieces of what looks like coral in myriad colours. Scoop a handful of this coralline algae known as maerl and it gleams with the mother of pearl of minute shells, miniscule pieces of coral amongst tiny branches of delicate underwater plants, the colours ranging from purple, orange, yellow, fading out to pure bleached white.

Tra an Doilin 1

Swim in the clear water of any of the series of tiny coves between the rocky outcrops while the countless colours beneath catch the light – a must see on the west coast. Tread carefully as you explore the rocks pools and coves because maerl, while beautiful, is sharp on bare feet.

Excerpt from Wild Swimming in Ireland 2016, ISBN 978-1-84889-280-4

Getting there; from Galway city take the R336 cast road west past Connemara airport. At Casla, turn left onto the R343 and follow the signs for Carraroe. Drive through the village and look for the sign for Tra an Doilin which brings you to the car park and beach.

Lough Hyne – Co Cork

Lough Hyne, County Cork

©Paul McCambridge 2016 – MAC Visual Media Swimming in Lough Hyne, County Cork.

 

Words by Maureen McCoy, photos by Paul McCambridge

Sitting in a fold of hills 5km south of Skibbereen this marine lake is connected to the ocean by a narrow channel known as the Rapids, re-charged twice a day with the in flowing tide, it provides a playground for swimmers and kayakers who allow themselves to be swept along in the fast flowing waters. A little island out crop on the shore facing the grand house is the entry point for most swimmers and here you can wade in down a short slipway into the clear briny waters. Home to the Lough Hyne Lappers, a group of openwater swimmers who boast among their numbers the first man to complete Oceans Seven Stephen Redmond, the lake is not only for these hardly marathon swimmers and you are just as likely to meet grandparents introducing grandchildren to the water.

©Paul McCambridge 2016 – MAC Visual Media Swimming in Lough Hyne, County Cork.

Irelands first Marine Nature Reserve holds within it a wealth of marine life and walkers will enjoy the steep hike up through the woods to the summit of Knockomagh Hill for grandstand views of West Cork, the lough and the Atlantic Ocean.

©MAC Visual Media 2016 – MAC Visual Media Swimming in Lough Hyne, County Cork.

Excerpt from Wild Swimming in Ireland 2016, ISBN 978-1-84889-280-4

Getting there; from Skibbereen in west Cork take the R595 toward Baltimore and after a few kms, take a left turn signed to Lough Hyne, this leads down to parking at the edge of the lake, turn left and drive along the lake shore to the outcrop and slipway, parking and picnic tables here.

Google Maps; https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Lough+Hyne/@51.5008079,-9.3105661,15z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x4845a4c113be2969:0xeb9178cb198acc8a!8m2!3d51.5024127!4d-9.3030566

Festive Swims + Dips 2018

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual MediaSanta Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

Halloween is over and now we race towards Christmas, with days getting shorter there’s a call to make the most of the daylight…

A quick dip with friends or family and maybe even raising some funds for a worthy cause… why not check out a local event;

Polar Plunge for Special Olympics;

“with 7 locations nationwide there’s bound to be a plunge near you”

Connaught
Date Location Sign up details
Sat 1st Dec

11.30am

Rosses Point

Co Sligo

https://community.specialolympics.ie/polar-plunge2018/rosses-point-polar-plunge
Leinster
Sat 1st Dec

11am

Clogherhead Beach

Co Louth

https://community.specialolympics.ie/mcf/events/2018/polar-plulnge2018/clogherhead-polar-plunge-2018
Sat 8th Dec Rosslare Strand

Co Wexford

https://community.specialolympics.ie/rosslare-polar-plunge-2018
Sat 8th Dec 40ft Sandycove

Dun Laoghaire

https://community.specialolympics.ie/sandycove-polar-plunge
Munster
Sat 1st Dec

1pm

The Dock Beach, Kinsale

Co Cork

https://community.specialolympics.ie/kinsale-polar-plunge
Ulster
Sat 1st Dec

11am

Titanic Quarter Belfast https://community.specialolympics.ie/belfast-polar-plunge
Sat 15th Dec

10am

Rathmullan Strand

Co Donegal

https://community.specialolympics.ie/rathmullan-polar-plunge

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Newcastle Xmas dip 3a

Turkey Swims, Sandycove & Myrtleville, Co Cork

12 noon is Turkey Swim Time – All welcome, alternating Sandycove / Myrtlville

Sign in and pay €2 on the day

Money collected goes towards prizes drawn on the 23rd at Fountainstown, excess money and all money collected on the final weekend goes to RNLI

Dates;

Sunday 11th Nov – Myrtleville, 12noon

Sunday 18th Nov – Sandycove, 12noon

Sunday 25th Nov -Myrtleville, 12noon

Sunday 2nd Dec – Sandycove, 12noon

Sunday 9th Dec – Myrtleville, 12noon

Sunday 16th Dec – Sandycove, 12noon

Saturday 22nd Dec – Sandycove, 3pm

Sunday 23rd Dec – Fountainstown, 10am

Further details; https://sandycoveswimmers.com/

*******

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual MediaSanta Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

Gathering of Friends Christmas Swim – Pier to Pier – Carlingford, Co Louth 

Monday 24th December 12noon – assemble on each pier 11.45am safety briefing.

Two way swimmers assemble at pier closest to sailing club. One way assemble at King John’s pier.

Bucket collection for Carlingford Day Centre.

Safety boat provided.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual MediaSanta Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

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Dare to Dip for Cancer Focus, Crawfordsburn Beach Bangor, Co Down

1st January 2019 11am – 1pm

Cancer FocusNI’s New Year’s Day Dip is back for the 4th year running!

Registration: £10 Suggested Sponsorship: £50

https://cancerfocusni.org/fundraising/events/

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©Paul McCambridge – Portrush – 18th December 2016 Hundreds turned out for Portrush’s annual Santa Splash in aid of the Childrens Heartbeat Trust organised by the Acradia Bathing Club.

Arcadia Bathing Club Santa Splash – Portrush, Co Antrim

Sunday 16th December 1.30pm East Strand Portrush

Charity – RNLI

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©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media 1st January 2018 Donaghadee Chunky Dunkers New Years Swim

Donaghadee Chunky Dunkers 12 Swims of Christmas, Co Down

Wed 5th December – 10am

Thur 6th December – 10:30am

Fri 7th December – 11am

Sat 8th December – 12noon

Sun 9th December – 12:30pm

Fri 21st December – 10am

Sat 22nd December – 10:30am

Sun 23rd December – 11:30am

Mon 24th December – 12noon

Tue 25th December – 1pm

We’d 26th December – 2pm

Sun 30th December – 4pm

Proceeds to Epilepsy Action N I and Assisi Animal Sanctuary.

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©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media 1st January 2018 Donaghadee Chunky Dunkers New Years Swim

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Lough Neagh Monster Dunkers – Oxford Island, Co Armagh

Saturday 15th December 10am – Soup and chat After

Lough Neagh Discovery Centre

Skins Only

*******

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual MediaSanta Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

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TORY ISLAND AND THE KING OF TORY – RÍ THORAÍ

 

 

 

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By Maureen McCoy and Paul McCambridge

 

 

Tory Island lies 9 miles off the coast North-west Donegal. 3 miles long and 0.6 of a mile wide, it is a rugged and exposed outpost of Irish island life. The small population of 154, at the time we visit, had recently been swollen by 3 new babies, Patsy Dan, the King of Tory, proudly tells us. His vision and hope that the island will begin to regenerate seeing a flicker of life with these happy tidings.

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In his Gaelic island lilt, Patsy Dan takes his duty as the King of Tory very seriously. All visitors are made welcome. Patsy, as far as his health will let him, comes down to the harbour to welcome the ferry each time it arrives. A striking figure, although not a large man, Patsy conjures an almost Pirate King image to me. A large gold ring in his ear, sailing cap on his head and sharply dressed in a dark double-breast pea coat with a gold “O” pin on his lapel he cuts a dapper stride. His silver car parked close by with the personalised plate; King of Tory.

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Patsy Dan Rogers, the King of Tory, passed away Friday, 19th October 2018, after a long-term illness aged 74.

Having only met him last year over a few days on the island, I was struck by his welcoming manner. On learning we were there to explore the islands interesting swimming spots and the music and art that the island is famous for. He immediately insisted that we pitch our tent close beside the Dixon Gallery where he, Anton and other local artists exhibit their work, to shelter from the stormy weather due to hit that evening.

 

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Patsy Dan described himself as a primitive artist and his paintings in the gallery hang alongside those of other family members. Although not born on the Island Patsy Dan was a great ambassador for the way of life there and it seems to me that they chose well on electing him King. The island has had a history of electing artists as their King. Born in Dublin he was adopted and came to the island around the age of four. A gifted musician and a natural storyteller he regaled us with stories both historical and recent of the island. Patsy Dan was also a great friend of the English artist Derek Hill who kept returning to Tory for close to 50 years. He described how Derek would spend days in his little studio/ ‘shack’ on the exposed northwest cliffs. He pressed the key into my hand and said “Go up and spend some time there when the weather clears, follow the track up from the road, just leave me the key back before you leave Tory!”

180817 - Tory Island 1st edit 18aAfter a wet and windy night, the day was settled as we cycled out towards the light house then turned right up the rough path to the shack. Between the natural rock and sparse grass were great slabs of concrete, most with heavy and rusted metal hoops embedded in them. I guess a hangover from the old telegraph station.

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Inside the shack is still as Derek had left it, a small table in the narrow entrance hall with a slate top, perhaps this is where Derek would place his camping stove to boil water as he worked. The one-roomed building has windows on 3 sides and a second table sits in front of the largest, looking inland. In the corner a cabinet houses a few collectables – an old soap flake package, Oxo tins, a kettle, tea pot and even his paint palette on a slate. Derek might have only just stepped out the door a moment ago.

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Looking across this craggy coastline with its cliffs and inlets, the rocks flayed with lines as though the sea, wind or both had whipped them repeatedly creating scars. I can see the draw for an artist to return year on year. How the light must change on the rock, sometimes grey, sometimes brown and even pink in the evening light.  The Atlantic, even on a calm day beats against the shore, whirlpools and sea-spray surging around the base of the cliffs and, as you follow the shoreline into one of numerous inlets the water is calm, the outer rocks taking the brunt of the ocean waves.

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A wooden bench painted bright red and tethered down to large rocks, a makeshift solution after the original bolts had sheared off, provides a perfect seat to watch the changing elements. Just below a curved metal barrier hangs over the edge of the inlet and from this a steep and narrow stone staircase leads down to the water. The sun lights up the sea-weed under the surface as it sways gently in the crystal clear sea – who could resist?

 

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This northern shore of Tory Island has the high cliffs, taking all the battery of the sea and not far from Derek’s shack is a small walled graveyard called ‘The Foreign or Commonwealth Graveyard’. Still tended by the islanders this is the resting place of British sailors who’s ship the HMS Wasp sank here in 1884, with only 6 survivors from their 56 crew. Their mission was to vacate the island as their landlord owed over ten thousand pounds to the British government and HMS Wasp was going to collect rent and rates or remove the residents off the Island. As word filtered to Tory that the ship had left Westport, Co Mayo, two islanders carried the ‘Cursing Stone’ to the extremities of the island, praying that it would put upon the ship a curse from the heavens. The Gun Boat sank 23rd September 1884.

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The island has had many years of battling to maintain its permanent residents, a fight Patsy Dan continued to struggle with as he tried to convince the government and others to invest in the islands infrastructure and improve access for tourism.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media Tory Island. Picture by Paul McCambridge

A place for bird watchers, artists and poets, walking or off-road biking along this cliff top brings one past a series of inlets and inspiring rock formations. Approximately halfway along the island is a very narrow and extremely steep inlet that has two little gems for swimmers. The very steep grassy sides mean you must zig-zag your way carefully down to the waterside rocks. From here it’s a fairly easy climb down into the water, a large dark cavern gapes in the opposite wall. Swimming out of the sunlight into the darkness my heart beats faster, that nervousness of the unknown. My eyes take a moment to adjust to the dim light and I cannot stop myself from imagining all sorts of great sea creatures lurking in the shadows – quickly coming back into the safety of the light I spy a large rock near where I got in and I see a narrow gap behind. I slip through this gap into a tall circular chamber; an almost enclosed little pool.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media Tory Island. Picture by Paul McCambridge

Tory has many swim spots to discover; on the east of the island at Port an Duin, right at the end of the road, two beaches frame the narrow land bridge leading out to Balor’s Fort and The Lovers’ Flagstone. Lying back to back, depending on which direction the wind is from, one or other of these can often be sheltered enough to swim.

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Worth the trip and despite its small landmass, Tory has a lot to offer for a visit, music, art, swimming and bird watching.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media Tory Island. Picture by Paul McCambridge

Thank you Patsy Dan, King of Tory for making us welcome.

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