‘The Towel Run’ – Sandycove Island Swim 2019

 

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

Words Maureen McCoy, Photography Paul McCambridge

 

Ned, as is his usual want to goad me whenever he sees me, for not having swum Sandycove Island. This July at the Lough Erne 17k he “upped the anti” by brandishing a large white towel with a list of names adorning it – English Channel Swimmers who’ve done a lap of Sandycove…

“You have to do your lap to get your name on this.”

 

So here I am, almost two months later, signed on the dotted line for the Sandycove Island Swim, along with 200 plus other swimmers – the draw of the towel proved too strong!

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

The forecast was not promising for the day with rain and wind due to drive in in the afternoon, around the time the race was scheduled to start.

Arriving in Kinsale with half an hour to spare for registration I collected my cap and time-chip from the organisers stationed at Hamlets and then caught up with some of the swimmers from the 7 Lakes challenge the previous weekend.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

4pm and the rain was lashing down! Umbrellas up as sodden swimmers gathered at the bottom of the road. Two Myrtleville Turtles vainly tried to stay warm zipped together into one dry-robe…

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

During the briefing Ned announced that the course would be brought inside the island – with the wind making it “quite lumpy” and a fog rolling in it would be unsuitable for many swimmers to do ‘The Lap’.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

My fears of a mad crash of swimmers all vying for space were alleviated when it was clear that we’d set off in waves of 30 – fastest swimmers first. “So if your number is 185, you will be waiting around for ten minutes or so. Stay as warm as you can…Ha!”

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

4.30pm and numbers 1 – 30 were called to line up and ticked off the list as they ran onto the slipway. The horn sounded and they were off as the next 30 lined up. The starts were quick, smooth and well executed.

The course; out towards the island, rounding the first large yellow buoy and then along the lee of the island, turn at the farthest buoy and return to the unmissable bright orange FINISH line.

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©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

After standing about in the pelting rain the sea was welcomingly warm, a short tussle on the way to the first buoy and then, after the turn, the field opened up and I could relax into my stroke across the bay.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / Sandycove Island Swim

On rounding the far buoy my latent competitive urges piqued as I was flanked by two swimmers – one “skins” and the other wetsuit. I tried not to drop too far behind as the three of us raced our way in.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim, Mo

©Paul McCambridge / Sandycove Island Swim.

The rain was still pelting down as we hit the time check and climbed up the slipway, no hanging about – we each grabbed our gear and ran back to cars or vans for shelter.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge /  Sandycove Island Swim

Waiting for the traffic to clear we watched as the last of the organisers and boat crew were leaving and one lone swimmer came past on her bicycle. Through the pouring rain, water streaming down the road under her wheels, her black dry-robe flapping in the wind like something out of Harry Potter, she disappeared over the brow of the hill.

It was at that moment I realised – I still hadn’t done a lap of the island – I wouldn’t get my towel!

Link to results… Cork Masters Results

Neddie Irwin… 1st swimmer home

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / Neddie Irwin –  Sandycove Island Swim

That evening the celebrations took us from Hamlets to dinner at Cru restaurant and then onto a local bar with live music and dancing!

Waking on Sunday morning to bright sunshine streaming through the windows, I was glad to see a complete turn-around of the weather having arranged to meet Ned for my lap of the island.

As we walked down the beach the tide was fast on its way out and Ned asked; “Have you ever swum around the island?”

“Yes.” I replied, “But you didn’t believe me and said it had to be witnessed!”

“Sounds like something I’d say.” he laughed.

“We need to go now though – soon there won’t be any water to swim!” Adding, “Whatever you do don’t walk on the rocks – your feet will be cut to pieces”

As we paddled in it seemed this would be more walk than swim and soon we were using a mix of crawl, sculling and good old crocodile crawling.

At one stage Ned managed to get completely stuck in the shallows – 6foot 6 of legs and arms “turtled” as he rolled about trying to find some water! As I giggled at the sight, I promptly ran aground myself and had to wiggle my own way across trying to avoid scrapes!

Finally outside the island we made it to deep water and a lively swim to the far corner. Here the breaking waves allowed us to surf in before returning to the slipway – my official lap done!

280919 - Sandycove Swim '19 02

©Paul McCambridge / Ned at Sandycove with bloodied knees – thanks for the guided swim and lunch!

Back at Ned’s we enjoyed the craic and a tasty lunch of steak and mushrooms all served up on Syrian bread and washed down with creamy hot chocolate – lovely, thank you Ned.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim,

Thanks also to all the hard working and drenched organisers and volunteers for a super event.

Links to Sandycove Swimmers + Cork Masters

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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/

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©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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181216 - Santa Splash Portrush 11a copy

©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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Dunker's New Years 2a

©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.

Dunkers New Years 11a

©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

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

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

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Global Open Water Swimming Conference, Cork 2013

Words by Maureen McCoy

Photos by Paul McCambridge

A beaming face greeted me as I entered the packed hall at the reception of the Global Open Water Swimming Conference, with a grin like the Cheshire Cat, Billy Wallace eagerly showed me the photograph he had just been presented with, taken in Belfasts Ormeau Baths in the 1920s, of Mercedes Gleitze after an exhibition swim, where Billys mother had been her attendant and life-guard.  As Billy proudly showed this picture to Mercedes daughter, Doloranda Hannah Pember and me, Doloranda shared in the excitement and began to tell us of her mothers’ interesting career.

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Dolorandas’ eyes sparkled as she explained how Mercedes had not only pioneered open water swims but also travelled the UK and Ireland doing such exhibitions, displaying her aquatic prowess and her passionate belief that women could be strong and capable, in a time when women’s emancipation was still being fought. She told us how, growing up, she knew little of her mothers’ swimming career but then found a wealth of information carefully stored in the attic after her mothers’ death.

She really did not tell us much about her career as a swimmer in fact she swam when she was pregnant with all three of her children, which in those days was unheard of. She did so much to open up things for women.”

Doloranda was inspired to trawl Mercedes papers and researched as many publications as she could find, to compile a definitive book on her mother. It was captivating to listen to this lively lady describe her mother and to hear first-hand about the woman who blazed a trail in swimming and charitable works.

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Mercedes own words clearly show the passion she had for swimming; “Sea swimming is a beautiful thing, in fact an art. An art whose mistress should be not the few, but the many.”

“What could possibly speak more for man’s prowess as an athlete than the ability to master earth’s most abundant, most powerful element – water, no matter what its mood.”

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(Anna-Carin Nordin(1st woman to complete Oceans Seven) and Doloranda)

Mercedes visited Ireland often and attempted the North Channel many times during the 1920’s, Doloranda said; “It was her biggest regret. She always felt that it was possible. After seven attempts, including three on the Mull of Kintyre where she came very close, only a mile from completing.”

The Mull of Kintyre swim was completed for the first time in August 2012 by Wayne Soutter who said; “It was because of Mercedes I attempted the swim, if not for her I would not have done it.”

Paul and I, both having Grandfathers who were open water swimmers, wonder now if perhaps their paths also may have crossed with Mercedes?

Mercedes Gleitze was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (www.imshof.org) along with 220 other luminaries and pioneers of the sport of marathon swimming.

Doloranda hopes to publish her book in the near future.