Jody Tells us about his 17k Lough Erne Swimming Experience
Three weeks after swimming 17k in early August 2015, the effects still linger. The arms creak and stomach turn, every whiff of sea salt a reminder that I should take up cycling and sod this open water lark.
But you get back and do a race. Then a spin around the 40ft, and before you know it there you are,racing in the Dun Laoghaire Harbour race like a croaky old Labrador with a heart as big as a pineapple.
The Lough Erne 17k itself doesn’t look so much like a trek across a giant, open lake as a gentle ramble through farming country. You cut your way along the River Erne that connects the upper and lower lakes, green hills rolling up on all sides. It’s vast and beautiful, and by the time we got down to the water’s edge on August 1st, fast too.
A whole Irish summer’s worth of rainfall had built up at the starting point at Carrybridge, and by the time we were in the water we were fighting to stay put for the starters horn. The strong current lasted about a mile, but it counted. 1 hour down and I’d done 4k. Half way there and only 2 hours 15 minutes had passed. I was ticking along far quicker than I expected. The next 2k was hard but I was able for it. The sun came out and opened the darkness below, nudging me along to the Killyshevlin hotel.
The long stretch there is where people blow up, I was told. It never seems to end, no matter how fast you go. Knowing this I was ready for it, and somehow I got though.
Unfortunately, there’s more of the blasted lake, not to mention words to describe it when you have the final 3k or so to go. If looking for someone to compete for the prize of most miserable man in Ireland, I would like to submit that 30 minute stretch on my entry form. Thankfully, my kayaker was fantastic, saying just the right words to keep me going. The plan was to finish, not to blow the world away, but coming into Enniskillen under 5 hours and seeing my parents there was very special. I did a blub into my goggles and stood up, then fell over immediately.
I can only guess how astronauts start walking again after months suspended in space. Getting back into training has been hard. But even with the aches and a bit of tiredness, it’s been hard to stay out. And having done one marathon swim, I can’t help but turn my attention to next year and what might be next.
Roisins Swims from Clare to Galway
Galway Bay always looks different. At 0645 on Saturday morning (25/7/15) it was as calm as I'd ever seen it. Our first wave of swimmers (solo and relay) got the bus to Aughinish in Co Clare. The nerves were plentiful.
On the beach we answer a roll call, and start getting ready. Every open water swimmer I know recognises what people say next when you are doing the final checks and greasing up (lanolin / vaseline - it's your only man!). As you get ready and are chatting to whomever is next to you, suddenly the volume is raised, and as clear as can be over all the chats, someone gasps "IN YOUR TOGS?"
Yep, in my togs! I've only swam in a wetsuit once, and only because I had gotten burnt to a crisp. It's not for me. Too much gear to mind, smelly wetsuits doesn't appeal, but the reality is that I love the feel of the water. It's like no other feeling getting into your stroke after the first usually chilly minutes. The same stretch of coastline will look and act different every time you swim in it.
A few more photos and we were off. The shoreline was like a submerged forest, with too many jellyfish for my liking. Our brief was to swim approximately 2 km to meet our escort boat. I started swimming, only to find that it then got too shallow to swim. This broke the ice of the nerves, we all stood up and walked about another 100 metres, and then we were off again. I swam towards America for a while, but then got myself back on track.
At 2km I meet my boat, the Isle of Aran, in gorgeous Galway colours, Tommy my captain waving a Galway flag, Diarmuid the first mate, and Úna Ryan appeared delighted to (finally) see me.
And so the real swimming began. I had thought that I would freeze, it was glorious. I also was fearful about the distance. My longest swim in Irish waters to that time was nearer 8km, so crossing the distance had played on my mind. I loved it. The water was amazing, the sun shone, and next land was Galway!
I stopped for gels and fluids (probably not enough in hindsight). I stopped when my crew let a shout at me (my captain knew how to shout at a swimmer, Úna and Diarmuid had to be shown).
Three and a half hours in and I was in my element. I spent the time thinking of what my amazing mum would make for dinner, what other swims I'd do, how lucky I had accidentally found open water swimming (knee injury + pool + my sister Mar). I've been told that swimming is meditation for people who can't keep still. I like that!
It did get hard, there was work involved. I had irritated my shoulder the previous week, so the final portion of my swim was painful. I got through it stroke by stroke. Leading up to the swim I worried about not being able to cross the bay. That never occurred to me in the water.
Swimming into Blackrock was incredible. I hope I get to do it again next year!
Huge thanks are due to everyone who sponsored me to support the Frances Thornton Memorial Swim in aid of Cancer Care West, my many swimming buddies, my pool gang, my fab Dublin Swimming Club friends, Tommy and Diarmuid on the beautiful Isle of Aran boat, Úna for being a superstar, my entire family for the love and support, and my amazing parents.
Dublin Race in Killiney 2015
Dublin Swimming Club held their annual race at Killiney on July 12, 2015. Conditions were almost flat calm, in contrast to the previous day, when another race was held there in choppy waters. 117 men and 86 women took part in the races. Leading them home in the men’s was Karl Wilkes of North Dublin, second was Shay Dillon of Guinness and the first Dublin swimmer home was Jody Clarke in third, with Paul Nolan close behind in fifth. The team prize was won by NAC, with Dublin coming second.
Joan Delaney of Phoenix took the women’s title followed closely by Dublin member Julie Anne Somers – last year’s winner. Tiffany Quinn from Dublin was fourth and Dublin ladies also won the team prize.
This had been the third of three races over the course of the weekend, so there were lots of team points at stake. Dublin ladies currently lead while Dublin men are now in third place. In the swimmer of the year league, Dublin legend Claire or Dwyer has opened up a 4 point lead, while in the men’s, Niall O’Sullivan has moved up to fifth.
Dublin swimming club is the oldest swimming club in Ireland, having been established in 1881. The race today was one of 28 taking place over the course of the summer under the auspices of the Leinster Open Sea Committee, culminating in the Liffey swim on September 19.