CRAIGAVON BALANCING LAKES CO ARMAGH

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Words by Maureen McCoy

Photography By Paul McCambridge

Tuesday had been a wet day with only a few breaks in the heavy rain showers but come 7pm, the sun was venturing out and it promised to be a reasonably warm evening.  I arrived early at the North Lake and introduced myself to the other early birds.  With the air warm and muggy I was sure the water would be warm too.

The small band grew as more and more arrived and I was introduced as their ‘guest’ swimmer.  We stepped into the lake and soon got into an easy front crawl.

A kayaker went on ahead to negotiate us around the heaviest patches of weeds.  At times we almost had to crawl over this wiry, prickly stuff, pulling lumps of it out as it caught on wrists and watches.  A few short patches of this were the only thing that would mar a very pleasant swim.  With the evening sun breaking through the grey clouds, the tall reeds, their feathery heads stretching high above the waters edge, the scene had a dreamlike quality.

As we returned to the shore on our third lap, the rain started and quickly became a downpour.  I lifted my head and swam head up, fascinated by the drops hitting the surface so hard that they bounced back up forming thousands of what looked like pawns from a chess set – repeatedly formed and broken.  Finally the rain began to ease and we tried vainly to seek shelter as we dressed under a tree.  One swimmer said he’d been quite surprised to look back and see “a nudey person behind me!”  So used to the black arms of wetsuits, a bare arm was easily spotted.

 Tuna Triathlon Club now use the South lake on a Monday evening at 7.00pm from the sports centre.

 I swam as their guest but the club website does ask for all swimmers to be members, wear their wetsuit and have completed at least a 1500m continuous swim in the pool.

Check out www.tunatriathlon.org for club information.

Lurgan Masters Swim Club also use the lake on a Sunday evening at 6:30pm, with 200m/400m/750m/1km courses marked out. LMSC ask that swimmers have membership of either Swim Ireland/ILDSA/Triathlon Ireland for Insurance reasons

http://www.lurganmastersswimclub.com 

See map below for entry point. 

©PAUL MCCAMBRIDGE PHOTOGRAPHY Picture By Paul McCambridge Tel 07711167277

CAMLOUGH LAKE, Co Armagh

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Irish International Triathlete Aileen Reid(nee Morrison) training in Camlough

Camlough Lake

I did a lot of my channel training at ‘Crooked Lake’ Camlough. The lake is calm, sheltered, with easy access from a wide slipway, providing an ideal training ground.

I love the days when I do a long swim down the lake, seeing the sun stream down over Slieve Gullion. Aiming for the V formed by the two hills at the far end, swimming past an old pontoon on the right hand side, a favourite spot for herons to perch. As the winter deepened the local fishermen looked on in amazement as I stripped down to my cossie and waded into the cold water.  Deep breaths as the cold chilled my skin, I would count –1 – 2 – 3 – GO!  Off with a fast front crawl to generate some heat in my muscles on the 250m out to the first buoy, I would then settle into my stroke heading around the second buoy to complete a lap of 750m at the slipway.

A co-incidental meeting in Dover the week prior to my channel swim caused me to bump into a group of fellow Camlough ‘training ground’ swimmers returning from their successful stag do relay swim.  Since then, this group of Camlough and Newry locals have been organising superb events at the lake.

This previously hidden gem in South Armagh hit the world stage when more than three hundred swimmers from all over Ireland and beyond joined the local community to continuously swim for nine days.  On the 9th of the 9th 2009 the Guinness World Record for the longest ever relay swim was smashed.

Following on from that success Camlough Lake has grown in popularity and 2010 saw the inaugural Camlough Water Festival, a weekend of kayaking, water-polo, short swims, 5k and 10k swimming races.

Go down to the lake in the summer and you will find something of a carnival atmosphere with children paddling, swimmers and triathletes enjoying the water, you are likely to be welcomed by some hardy folk, including Bridgeen, Micky or Milo, who have been swimming there since the mid 80’s.

More on Camlough Water Festival http://www.clwf.eu

Words By Maureen McCoy

Photography By Paul McCambridge

Enter from the slipway on the Crossmaglen road, where you will see marker buoys forming a 750m loop from the slipway – further buoys have been added creating a variety of circuits, detailed on the map below.  Newry Triathlon club have set up a container here providing a changing facility and storage for safety equipment.  They run events through the year, triathlons and occasional night swims.

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Above Open Water Swimmer Colleen Mallon 

Course Map and Safety Information Below

 

Camlough Lake 2020 courses

 

LOUGH MONEY, CO DOWN

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On a cold and “mizzling” Sunday, we headed off to visit a new Lough.  Lough Money is on the Ballyculter Road out of Downpatrick.  This Lough is owned by the Fisheries and is well signposted.  There is a carpark, open from 8am to 10pm and a path around the near end of the lough.

There is good access for Wheelchair users, with designated parking spaces and boardwalk areas to fish from.

The Lough is picturesque with water lilies, just beginning to bloom when we arrive.  It stretches north, approximately 1 km long and fairly narrow.

We entered at the short slipway (aptly named as it turned out,) the boys managed to slide their way into the water – not very elegantly, may I add!  I chose the marginaly safer option of stepping to the side and braving the rocks.  Here the water gradually gets to a depth for swimming and as it’s very clear, you feel quite confident wading in.  The temperature was very pleasant, as soon as I glided off into the Lough it felt beautiful, a temperature where I knew I could take my time, stop for a chat and enjoy the view!

Choosing a line down the centre of the Lough, giving the lillies, reeds and any fishermen a wide berth, (I feel it’s common courtesy to give them their space and not scare the fish, plus I have no desire to be hooked myself!)

We set off, spotting tall evergreen trees on the island that marks the halfway point on the Lough, giving the lough the look of a French scene.  As we got close to this halfway point, we swam past an old metal structure.  At first we thought it was a support for a waterski ramp, then we noticed pipework, so perhaps it was an old pump.

We checked the boys in the kayaks were feeling ok.  It was only Davids’ second time out in a boat, happy enough, we swam on to the far end of the lough.

The rain began in earnest.

It’s a lovely thing to swim in the rain, the surface of the water softened, broken by the raindrops, seeing the tiny splashes each time you turn and breathe, feeling  the cool  rain on your arms as you take each stroke.

As we struck out, on our way back down the lough, a swan moved in front of us.  Each time I lifted my head to check my course, there he was, about 10 metres ahead.  Not concerned, perhaps curious, he led us all the way back down the lake until he decided that was enough, and I heard the “wap wap wap” of his wing tips beating the surface.  I watched with awe as he half flew, half ran across the water, past me and back towards his mate.

Words by Maureen McCoy

Photography by Paul McCambridge