It’s Official – we have proof


Our Certificates, maps and reports have arrived from CS&PF from our 2Way English Channel Relay in July. 🙂 #CM2013

Officially Certified! :)

Officially Certified! 🙂

The observers reports are excellently written (thanks Jim Boucher & Mike Ball), they were so accurate, that at one stage Jim described Owen as a “Roadrunner”, it is pure coincidence that I have photographic evidence to back up his quote!.

an extract from our observers report!

an extract from our observers report!

Owen - AKA "Roadrunner" #BeepBeep

Owen – AKA “Roadrunner” #BeepBeep

When you are behind, don’t give up; when you are ahead, don’t let up.


2Way English Channel Crossing 13/07/13

England -> France: 10hr 18m 30

France -> England: 10hr 10m 00

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Last Weekend of Sea Races

I had a busy last weekend of Races, Back to Back swims, Saturday evening and Sunday. Normally I wouldn’t have done two together, but Myrtleville to Churchbay got weathered out in June and the new date was set after I had enter the Great Wicklow 10km Swim from Bray to Greystones. So I decided, feck it, last weekend of Sea races, I’ll do them both.

Myrtleville to Churchbay is always fun, its local, its well run, lots of people about, and to top it off Saturday was a lovely sunny day, big change to the weather from the original date in June!.

Start Point - Myrtleville Beach

Start Point – Myrtleville Beach

Finish Point in ChurchBay

Finish Point in ChurchBay

Over 100 swimmers make a splash for the RNLI

Over 100 swimmers make a splash for the RNLI

This is a 2km swim, mass start from the beach, and swim left, around the headland to Churchbay beach. As I have done the route enough times over the summer, I was glad to be knowing where I was going for once in a swim, but things still look different when you ‘race’, you can’t exactly stop to keep checking your line (if you are racing at the front!).

I wore my trusty pink NYC Mims hat, its done well over the summer for me, it fits and doesn’t move, the most important thing for a hat, especially over longer distances!. There is a down side to wearing that hat, I’m a huge bright target! I was told after the race I was sought out for my hat!, follow her they thought, she knows where she is going!

The mass start always scares me, I don’t do running into water well, it’s more like a few steps and start swimming as soon as I can!, but I got away reasonably ok, only a few bumps finding some space, the usual really.

The water was a bit lumpy, not calm enough to sight Roches Point when you look up, I saw more waves than landmarks. But water was fine, cool but fine (14deg fine). There was so much support from Kayakers, Boaters, Paddleboards the whole way that the swim felt very safe. Well done to Bernard and Damian for pulling all that Safety Cover together, we were surrounded in the water.

The last 50m came down to a bit of a sprint from 3 of us (or me and the two lads following me to the finish!). Ethan (a young’un) was standing on land waiting for the chasing pack to finish and with whatever I had left in me I tried to sprint the last 50m or so, I did ok, first female to finish and 3rd overall… I’ll take that thank you, happy with my 28min effort! By now the sun had gone in and the water was getting bumpier, I stayed in the water (wedging myself in a rock) and helped to guide in the rest of the swimmers to the finish, this is where my bright pink hat is an advantage!, the swimmers could see me sitting on the rock and waving them to the timekeepers.

Sprint Finish.. my arms just wern't long enough!

Sprint Finish.. my arms just wern’t long enough!

Spot the Pink Hat - wedged in a Rock!

Spot the Pink Hat – wedged in a Rock!

All swimmers finished within 55mins, which is a huge achievement to them all, there were nearly 120 swimmers in the water with various OW experience. A huge Relief to Bernard and Damian and a huge Well done for surrounding the swimmers with safety boats.

From here it was time to grab some clothes on the beach and head to Cronins Pub in Crosshaven for a quick bite and prizegiving. I couldn’t stay too late as I had an early start the next morning, so I collected by wine glasses 🙂  and headed for home, unpacked and repacked the swim bag for round two for the weekend!

hmmmm Wine Glasses, they'll be used!

hmmmm Wine Glasses, they’ll be used!

Sunday Morning, Collected my two swimming buddies, Eoin & Owen!, and off up the country we headed for the Great Wicklow 10km Swim . As this swim is also a point A to B route, we decided to try and leave the car at the finish in Greystones and grab a lift back to Bray (the start). Luckily for us, Alice was around, and in return for helping her to unload all the food out of the car for the finish, we got a lift back to Bray. I think all 3 of us agree that we are very glad to have seen the finish point on South Beach, even though there was a huge Inflatable Timing Arch at the finishing spot, it was Black, which ment it was NOT visible from the water at all, this was good to know, aim for the people gathered instead of the Arch we thought!.

The Black Arch Finish at Greystones Beach

The Black Arch Finish at Greystones Beach

Back at Bray Sailing Club, we got our goodie bags with timing chips (with the biggest strap for a chip I have ever seen!). We had about an hour after the briefing before the start, and thank god for a beautiful sunny day, it was a chance to stand around and chat without getting cold beforehand.

I should have left my watch next to this to show the size of it! Huge!

I should have left my watch next to this to show the size of it! Huge!

We had been warned that we need to head 800m north first, to the first marker bouy, before heading back south towards Bray Head and Greystones. Standing at the start line, that first bouy was barely in sight it was so far away! Follow the main group I thought, that’ll get me there. When we were given our 3min warning (mass start from in the water) Owen and I left it late to get our positions, eyeing up who was around us, and looking for a bit of space too. We strategically moved to the left at the last moment, watching a fast young’un and found a good spot. The Race was started by a local celebrity, I’ll get back to you with the name, (I don’t watch The Apprentice and he’s on that apparently!). So anyway, the starting horn went and so did we, off to find the first mystery bouy!. First few minutes were a bit hectic, some wetsuited swimmers doing their usual criss-crossing in front of me, but after about 5mins we settled down in a pack, with Owen to my right. As long as we are all going in the same direction we can’t be off course I thought, after about 10mins of swimming I started seeing the kayakers ahead of us, phew, keep following them, they must be heading for bouy!. 19mins later we rounded the first marker, that was a long 800m. Owen was still to my right with a few other wetsuiters around too, about 6 of us in the lead pack now. At least the next marker was easy to see, it was Bray Head. It was quiet busy around this first marker, all the boat and kayakers were waiting here to guide us the rest of the way, a lot of swimmers had brought their own kayaker with them, but there seemed to be lots of others too, plenty of safety cover again, just like in Myrtleville. I could see some of our lead pack swimmers settling in beside a kayaker, so at least there was something to look at. I am yet to mention the chop and waves, I’d had a bit of a lumpy swim at Myrtleville the night before, but that was only for 2k, by now we were about 1.5k into this 10k and it had been lumpy the whole time, the waves and chop kept cutting the stroke short and I’d end up next to Owen and be 10m away about 10sec later. The SW winds in our face were not going to make this an easy swim. BOOM, jellyfish sting in my arm, one of those ones that makes you want to chop your arm off for about 10sec. This was the start of the underwater expletives, cursing the waves, cursing the jellyfish, cursing the winds, cursing that someone was drafting right on my feet, you know, when one thing goes bad, everything is annoying, there was no honeymoon period in this swim, of ‘Oh what a lovely day for a swim’. No we were in a real OW race now, survival of the fittest I thought.

Owen and I were swimming along well side by side, nice tempo, I’d giggle when I’d see him get smashed by a wave landing on him, or his stroke got cut by a wave, and no doubt he was looking at the exact same thing happening to me. Then a kayaker came and found us, and told us we were way off course and we had to head back in towards land. Now Owen and I and not too bad at picking a line of sight, and to us we were aiming for Bray Head (Still), but the kayaker insisted we move at nearly a 90degree angle back towards land as the race markers were in there and we had to go around them. When you get an instruction from a kayaker you obey, that’s what I’ve always been told in OW swimming, obey the rules and safety. So I started heading back in towards land, this is where Owen and I split, his mind worked faster than mine, I was swimming for about 5mins at a 90degree angle to aim for a yellow marker, and then I remembered, keep the bouys to your RIGHT was the instruction at the briefing, I didn’t need to go around the damm thing, and so I straightened myself up again and started heading for Bray Head. I politely told the Kayaker that I didn’t have to go around it, and he said sorry, as that was where the other lead swimmers were heading. Not his fault I thought, he was only trying to do the right thing, but now I was on my own, Owen was way out to my left somewhere, not a hope of seeing him with the waves, so I just kept swimming for Bray Head. The Kayaker kept reappearing to me to make sure I was ok, I did ask at one stage, while rolling onto my back to take a breather of getting battered by a wave, did he know where the 5km ‘feed boat’ was? I couldn’t see (blinded from Sun and waves) so I was hoping he’d have a better view on top of the water. Then he broke my spirits, you’ve only done about 2.8k he said, the Feed Boat is a good bit away yet, I looked at my watch, 1 hour and 7mins, WHAT 2.8k, so I pulled my gel out of my togs and quietly took it and swam on, lonesome and wanting to cry, nothing anyone could do for me, I had to plough on.

Just a bit of Chop from a wave to make a splash!

Just a bit of Chop from a wave to make a splash!

Bray Head was a very rough section, very exposed and seemed to take a LONG time to pass, my mood didn’t help, angry with myself for not reacting earlier to not having to swim around the bouy, and having added extra distance onto my swim, and lost my swimming buddy in the process, and knowing at this rate it was going to be another while before I would get to the ‘feed boat’ with my SiS Carb drink. This is the mental part of swims I’ve learned to deal with, I really wanted to get out at this point, I’d had enough of the waves, chop etc, my timing bracelet felt loose, I was hungry and I was hurting, the body was taking a battering, all the negatives in one wave of QUIT. And then like a shining light, the kayaker came back to me and said he see’s the feed boat ahead, about 10mins away, follow him to get to it. I think I sprinted for 10mins when he said that to me… I told the Kayaker I was number 9 and my bottle was blue, just to speed up the feed stop, by the time I got to the boat the kayaker had my bottle in his hand, I gulped nearly 400ml of my drink, I was soo thirsty (from the heat) and soo hungry for a feed, I’ve gotten used to feeding every 30mins in long swims now, and and hour and a half seemed like forever to get a feed, I’d had a gel about 20mins earlier, which had at least taken the edge of the hunger pangs. The waves were quiet big around this section and I felt for the crew onboard the Rib, they were defiantly been thrown around, when you see that support you forget about your own grumbles, they are here to help you in their own time, the least you can do is be grateful and thankful for the support. As I took 10sec to take off the plastic hat they had given us to wear (it was nearly off anyway) I gave it to the kayaker and thanked the Feed Support Crew, and then look who I found round the other side of the Boat, Owen finishing his feed! Everything was bright and breezy again, I’d had my feed, found my swimming buddy and we had to be over half way at this stage. So bobbing in the water we asked for instruction for a point to aim for, “2 masts” we were told, they’ll bring us on a good line to Greystones, Owen turned to me, “can you see 2 masts”, Nope I said, “I’m trusting the kayaker can though”, and so we followed him, the sun was still shining brightly so that ment anything that wasn’t a big land mass was not visible at all to us swimmers.

The slump was over, I’d had my feed, I was swimming alongside Owen again, and we had our own kayaker, all was well in the world, I was in the delayed honeymoon period you normally get at the start of a swim, the happy zone! (The waves were defiantly still there though – reality check).

Someone else wore a GPS, I'd guess my route wasn't much different!

Someone else wore a GPS, I’d guess my route wasn’t much different!

For the next 30mins I was ploughing through the water well, I was taking advantage of feeling good, and just kept swimming. I started to pull away from Owen a bit, and the kayaker had his work cut out paddling between us both. About 3k from the end I spotted a kayaker and a swimmer slightly ahead of me and decided to aim for them and ‘pigggy back’ the guide to the finish. Low and behold when I joined them, I recognised who It was from the wetsuit stripes, it was my Masters Pool Swimming buddy Dymphna, I said hello to the kayaker and asked roughly if he knew how far we were and to give me a line of sight please. He said he was new to this but reckoned about 2km left and told me where to aim for, so I took my last Gel I had in my togs and said thank you to the random kayaker and on I went!. At this stage Dymphna had clocked it was me, (yet again my bright pink hat was a giveaway) and was no doubt cursing in the water, we are always racing each other in the distance events in the pool, now we are in open water with no blue line at the bottom of the pool, no tumble turns to get a little bit of a rest, and blinded by sunshine, but in water that was lurking at 14/15deg. As We came in towards Greystones and South Beach, I pushed a little in towards land, I knew if I swam along the beach the finish would be there somewhere, luckily another random kayaker came out to me when he saw me stop and look for the finish, I couldn’t figure out where the black Arch was at all, no idea if I had 500m or 50m left. So I just kept the head down and let the kayaker guide me on the last stretch (which was about 500m). I could see Dymphnas kayaker behind me, and Owen was just behind her, so I was not letting up on speed, in case either had a last minute sprint in them. I followed the yellow Kayak to the last bouy, and then I finally saw the Black arch on the beach, about 50m in front of me. As I’ve said before, I swim and don’t run, so I swam until I was unable to swim no more!, and then ran up the beach over the timing mats. 2hours 16min. Phew. I NEVER wanted to see another wave in my face again.

Phew - Done - 10k - 2hr 16m

Phew – Done – 10k – 2hr 16m

Got there in the end... next time we'll take the Dart!

Got there in the end… next time we’ll take the Dart!

I stayed and cheered on Dymphna and Owen in, we were all spent, nothing left. We took our finishers medals, and headed for the food tent that was about 200m away, Burgers for all finishers…. best recovery every!. It was 3pm at this stage, so I was defiantly hungry for food, and tea, and cake, and chocolate, and anything else they were offering!. Eoin and Liz finished not long after, all 4 Cork swimmers finished in the Top 20 #UpCork! (forgot to get a pic of the 4 of us – oops). Lots more mingling with swimmers and volunteers and a bit more eating, and the prize giving was announced!, I hadn’t realised, I was first Skins home, and also first Female home, only 3 male wetsuiters ahead of me! Owen Claimed first Male Skins, Nice One 🙂

For the pool Swimmers!

For the pool Swimmers!

We collected our prizes and hit the road, Long drive home with a body that was about to seize up, Thanks to Everyone who helped with the Great Wicklow 10km Swim, a super new event on the calendar.

So that is it for Sea Races for me for 2013 Season, back to some leisurely sea swims and some pool work for the winter to increase speed and fix the bad habits of swinging arms that I picked up over the summer (swinging arms were vital in those waves on Sunday though!).

Since May 1st I’ve covered over half million metres (500km) swimming, time for some R&R for a bit. It’s been a busy few months with some really big sea swims completed for me. Time to get into winter mode and start thinking about the Summer of 2014 – hmmmmmm 🙂 

Nice Finish to the OW Sea Swims :)

Nice Finish to the OW Sea Swims 🙂

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Dawn swim – 18 September

What a morning, a Fantastic Dawn/Daybreak/Sunrise Swim.. couldn’t have picked a better morning (it was pot luck – this is Ireland!) 🙂

Myrtleville Swimmers

Fantastic swim this morning and a great crowd down for it.  Calm water and clear skies.

Pictures from Carol Cashell’s waterproof:   She has two folders for Sun and People.

Pictures from Siobhan Russell.

Pictures from Riana Parsons.

Lots of  “guess the shadow” games.

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Powered by Diesel

Nice little post from Myrtleville Swimmers 🙂

Myrtleville Swimmers

Diesel on the North Main Street in Cork very generously gave hoodies and t-shirts to Carol, Bernard and Damian to mark their recent marathon swims.  Thanks to Brian O’Connor for that surprise delivery.  Siobhan Russell was called in for yet more pictures last night!!

It was Monday, so that meant Carol had to have done something spectacular over the weekend.  It’s all getting a bit predictable at this stage.  This week, she was Ladies Winner in the Sandycove Island Challenge in a very fast 22.08.  Imagine how fast she’d be if she hadn’t gone around Bere Island the week before….

A couple of pictures here for Rob Bohane’s mantelpiece.

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Bere Island – The Actual Swim (part 2)

Bere Island – Actual Swim Report

I mentioned on my previous post how this swim came about, but now it’s time for the nitty gritty, the actual swim report.

Myself and my own support Crew (Rob, Ray, Owen), went to the lifeboat station on the Friday night to meet the RNLI crew. We went over the maps again, discussed a few ‘what if’ scenarios and talked about the start time. It was agreed we would start about 20-30mins later than originally planned, due to sunrise time.  This also gave us a little bit of a lie in on Saturday morning.!

Publicity signs in Town

Publicity signs in Town

I left the lads head off to the local pub, where of course the swim came up in conversation with the locals; they enjoyed the banter (They say!).  I was busy mixing up my bottles, recounting my gels, laying out the clothes I needed for the early start etc. I finally drifted off to sleep after playing some cards on my phone to help me wind down.

5.30am Alarm, time to boil the kettle, fill the flasks, pack up the last of the gear, load the car and head to the RNLI station. Not sure what the lads in the RNLI thought of all the bags/boxes we had, but all essentials we told them! (Including one special box of food!).


One last chat with the crew at the station and we loaded onto Marneys Rib to head over to Bere Island. 2 of the other RNLI crew (Cian & Alan) also volunteered to follow us along for the swim on their Rib, lucky me, I get 2 boats! It’s only 10mins (2km) out to the island from Castletownbere, with flat calm seas, and a sun trying to peak out for daybreak, we set off with only the sounds of the huge Fishing Boats unloading their catch at the pier.

Marney pulled up alongside the slipway on Bere Island, and I hopped out and started getting greased up and ready to go. No more standing around to be done, it was time to swim. I was going Anti-Clockwise around the island, starting from the West End. I was about 1hour before Low Water, this was crucial, as I had to clear the mouth of the harbour (4km) due to strong currents that occur on a flood tide.

Setting off from the Slipway, ready to swim 24km/15miles around Bere Island

And so at 06.52am I entered the water and started swimming, in beautiful flat calm water. It felt fresh, but it didn’t make me instantly cold. The sun was still not up, but I could see it was trying to make an effort. I love the sun!. I was happy, flat water, lovely area, 2 boats around me, you know, the thoughts we all have when we start marathon swims, all the nice things….!

A Happy swimmer, flat calm (if only it stayed like that!)

A Happy swimmer, flat calm (if only it stayed like that!)

Rob waved the fluorescent orange high vis jacket, sign for me to get closer to the boat for a feed, had it been 30mins already? I swam over, grabbed the bottle Ray threw into the water (on a dog lead!) and listened to Robs instructions. I had already told Rob, I thrive on information, I want to know where I am, if I’m making good ground or loosing ground (estimated ground), He knew he had to be quick, I drink 250ml in 6sec, so there is a maximum of 15sec from me coming to the boat and leaving again. Rob told me I covered 2.5km in the first 30mins and that the water was 14deg so I should be feeling fine. My only words back as I threw the bottle were that the water was fine. I swam on. ( I will come back to this bit of information from Rob later!!)

The next 30mins were uneventful, sea conditions were no longer flat, so I knew I must be clearing the mouth of the harbour, water was a bit messy, I could feel my arms doing sloppy pulls under the water, it wasn’t me, the water was doing it, a bit sloppy. I did think of Ray, oh dear, his first time volunteering to crew for a marathon swim, and it gets bumpy – oh well, he volunteered!

Getting my information during a feed stop.

Getting my information during a feed stop.

Another feed, more information from Rob that we were at 4.5km mark, and on slack water (no more push from the outgoing tide). Lots of clouds still around, Sun not able to make its way out yet, so on the next feed, I asked Marney for the sun, he had promised it for about 8am! And true to his word the sun appeared, for about 10mins and went away again! Tease!. At the next feed I told the crew I was seeing lots of the purple jellyfish and that if they saw me kicking or doing a sidestroke it was just to avoid them, but thankfully as the water was so clear, I had super visibility underwater, I could see the Jellyfish and avoid them in plenty of time, and mostly they were deeper than me.  This also kept me alert, I know I was only 2hours into the swim, but something as simple as trying to avoid Jellies is amusement (as long as they don’t sting!).

Telling my Crew I was seeing Jellyfish, while swimming Backstroke so I don't waste time

Telling my Crew I was seeing Jellyfish, while swimming Backstroke so I don’t waste time

Nothing exciting on the next hour, my jellyfish were gone, the slack water was wavy, and I was doing ok with less than 2km covered per half hour. I could see the lads taking lots of pictures from the boat, but I now know they were for the loneswimmer, he loves his caves and arches, and we were passing loads!

I did have my watch on, ever the competitor, I wanted to know the time, but I was keeping track of the time from my feeds so I knew how long I was in. What I had forgotten was what time of the day it was. I’d hadn’t even looked at the watch while swimming. But I defiantly knew when it was 10am! Seán (one of the RNLI crew) had said on Friday night that he would be out fishing early in the morning and would join us with his fishing boat at 10am for company.  He also said he would bring the fry. We chuckled on Friday night when he said it, but when I saw only one of my crew on the Rib next to me, not long after Seán arrived, I knew he must have ment what he said…. The Breakfast Boat had arrived! 🙂

"The Breakfast Boat" (For Crew)

“The Breakfast Boat” (For Crew)

The next 2 hours were hard, it’s the mid swim SIGHHHH part of the swim, the part when the mind wanders, the stroke gets a big sloppy and you question why are you doing this. Thanks to my super swim crew, they spotted the signs and gave me one hour’s notice that Owen was going to be joining me for a ‘support hour’. For the next hour I tried to work a bit harder, I didn’t want to be slowing down and let Owen get cold swimming at my slower speed. So I kept my SIGHs to myself, and swam towards the never ending corner of the East End of the island (Sloping rocks for about 2 hours is crazy mind games of ‘where is the turn’).  Owen dived in, the sun started shining, and the water got even warmer as we were nearing the turning point at 15km. My instructions were to stick with Owen, he would guide me to the corner, he knew where he was going, having picked the points to sight from the boat.

Owen Joining me for a "Support Hour"

Owen Joining me for a “Support Hour”

Super Water Clarity at the East End of the Island

Super Water Clarity at the East End of the Island

There are some times when you have to actually stop and take in where you are. While Owen & I were doing what we know best at a corner (IE: taking it really tight over the rocks – Sandycove style), we ending up looking at fantastic underwater scenery, the clarity was the best I had seen it all day, I knew Owen would be in his element, an Ecology Student in UCC, and this is the hour he has to swim, full of things to look at. We got a bit distracted at one point and got too shallow, stood up, laughed, and flopped back onto the water again to continue checking out what was under us! This made a huge difference to my mood, I perked up, knowing that we were just about to turn the corner. Owen Left once we got around the corner and on next feed the crew told me, 8km to go, I smiled, no bother I said, home stretch.

Heading for home, Bere Island on the left, Mainland on the right.

Heading for home, Bere Island on the left, Mainland on the right.

I was on 20mins feed intervals now which were nice, having done the same during my MIMS swim, I knew this would make the time fly by to the end. BUT I had nearly forgotten that the winds were NW, that ment, head wind & Chop all the way back to the other end of the Island. I asked the crew if it was more sheltered closer to the island or to mainland on the other side, NOPE they said, the chop and waves were everywhere, may as well stay in the middle channel, OK I said, head down, time to swim on.

Just some waves and chop to content with for 8km!

Just some waves and chop to content with for 8km!

The stroke had to change during this section, I could no longer swim the ‘perfect’ stroke with bent elbow, it was now swing the arms high to clear the waves. I Was trying to think about the stroke more, but in the waves it was hard, I’d get a good stroke followed by a twisty short stroke, oh well, swim on, and in my head I knew I’d pay the price of the NW winds on my shoulders later!

The feedback from crew was still ongoing on the quick feed stops, they called out Facebook & Twitter messages to me, including that Damian (Myrtleville Damian!) even joined twitter to follow the swim!- awww thanks, that amused me for 20mins while I ploughed through waves. This is why I need information, I want to process something from feed to feed, whether it be good or bad, I need to keep the brain busy, otherwise I wander off picturing the Crew as Minions!

I watched Despicable Me2 over the summer - Minions make me laugh

I watched Despicable Me 2 over the summer – Minions make me laugh

I knew I was slowing at this stage, Rob told me I covered 1km since last feed, as I took my drink I could feel myself being pushed slightly backwards, and a house I picked on the island to swam to for last 20min was now ahead of me again. I had a talk with myself and decided to dig in, some boats were now following along too, I couldn’t let the tide or wind stop me, I’m better than that I thought, so I dug deep. Again, the crew saw what was going on, I was swimming well, but just not covering the usual ground I do per 20mins, so it was Rays turn to join me for support. I was waiting for the reaction from Ray, the water was no longer the temperature it was earlier, it had significantly dropped again, and then the chop, I know Ray is a super swimmer, but cool choppy water is not his favourite conditions to be in. He dived in without a swimming hat (A- because he had forgotten to bring one, B- it was sunny, he thought he’d be ok), 2 minutes later Ray swam back to the boat to borrow Owens swim hat, I’m telling you, the simplest things amuse a marathon swimmer after a hours in the water, and this made me chuckle for at least 10mins. It was great having Ray in the water, we had a flotilla of boats around us at this stage, but we were heading for a large fish farm that needed to be avoided, so again, I took the instruction of letting Ray guide me around the fish farm. Ray even decided to do a few strokes of Butterfly, not sure why, he likes Butterfly in the pool, maybe he was trying to amuse himself. My mind did wander to Sylvain though, in 2 weeks he is hoping to swim the English Channel in Butterfly — YES 21miles of Butterfly in the sea. I wish him HUGE good luck with it, A Hero for even attempting it.

Ray swimming Butterfly!  I'm Not!

Ray swimming Butterfly!
I’m Not!

My own personal Flotilla - watching this mad one swim around the island!

My own personal Flotilla – watching this mad one swim around the island!

Rays time was up, and Rob shouted a lap of Sandycove to go, now to non-Kinsale swimming people, this is a unit of measure we all know in Cork Open Water, its 1.8km. WooHoo I thought 30mins to go. I got another feed from Rob 20mins later and asked was it just around the next headland, Cian from RNLI crew piped up, no a little further, just aim for the cows as my line of sight, the cows mooved!, Cian has learned the lesson to give fixed points for lines of sight!, again a chuckle in the water from me, but also a thought of this is a really long lap of Sandycove I’m doing! Hmmmmm, I should have known better, I’ve been told I misheard the instruction; it was 2 laps of Sandycove to go, not one. Rob knew what he was doing to me, I was going for it, knowing it was only a half hour to go, I just kept swimming.  By now I had a flotilla of 7 boats around me, lovely to see the support for this pioneering swim, I was happy in the water, enjoying where I was, grateful of the support around me. And so I swam for the slipway on Bere Island and landed 7hours 14mins after starting. 🙂

FINISHED - :) acknowledging the flotilla support!

FINISHED – 🙂 acknowledging the flotilla support!

I had the usual marathon swim stagger trying to stand up, but Rob says it was a graceful wobble!, I turned to acknowledge the flotilla and the Lifeboat support, thanks for the company.

My crew bundled me up in my warm parker jacket, and after a few minutes on the slipway, I jumped onto the RIB and took a spin out to the big lifeboat, Rob and I climbed aboard and got ready to swim the last 800m back into the Castletownbere slipway where my family and friends were waiting. It was lovely to hear the hooting from all the boats as I finished back on land.

Rob accompanying me on the last stint, into CTB

Rob accompanying me on the last stint, into CTB

Thanks to Niall Duffy for taking some lovely photos of the finish :)

Thanks to Niall Duffy for taking some lovely photos of the finish 🙂

A few media shots later and the crew of the Lifeboat station opened the doors for me to have a shower and change. Then upstairs we went for a feed of Sandwiches and Tea put on by the volunteers of the RNLI. It was totally unexpected but it made a huge difference for getting me warm afterwards. This is also the place where we started comparing stories! Rob asked how I found the water, I said fine, he admitted he lied about the temperature, he had told me at my first feed it was 14.3deg at the start, in fact it was only 13.3deg (56f), and was 13deg for most of the swim, it did get to 14 for a bit and even touched at 16.0 briefly when we were at the shallow part over the rocks at the East End (Owens Hour), but finished back at 13deg again. Thanks Rob! I know I said I like information when I swim; real information is obviously only on a need to know from Rob! It did me no harm.

To finish up, there are many people to Thank, the Castletownbere RNLI crew and volunteers, who gave me great advice in planning this swim, and super support out on the water, especially Marney and Seán. My own swim crew of Rob, Ray and Owen, who between them, had eyes on me all day, they fed me and encouraged me along for over 7hours. To all the family and friends who were there or offered support for this pioneering swim, It was a first time swim around Bere Island (under English Channel OW rules), Someone may complete it faster than me some day, but no one can take it away from me that I was the first,  one for the record books 🙂

To View all my photos: I have made a facebook album, here is the link: you don’t need to be a member to view them!

and here are some parting photos that I really like 🙂

The family shot!

The family shot!

YIPPEE  First time around Bere Island

First time around Bere Island

Seán & Marney

Seán & Marney

I was presented this by the Castletownbere Lifeboat station. I love it. We raised close to €800 for the RNLI. thanks everyone

I was presented this by the Castletownbere Lifeboat station. I love it.
We raised close to €800 for the RNLI. thanks everyone

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Bere Island Swim (Part 1 of 2)

Round Bere Island – 31st August 2013 – How it all came about

Bere Island, Castletownbere, West Cork. A far away location to some, but for me, this area has fond memories. Mum is from Cahirkeem, north side of the Beara Peninsula, My grandparents (May & Jeremiah Murphy) lived there all their lives and we visited and holidayed in West Cork a lot, especially when younger.

I never appreciated the water when I was there as a Child, so now looking at the map of the area, I see things differently, apart from entering the Regattas on the August Bank Holiday weekend, I hadn’t really swam in the water there. So When I measured distances of some local swims Bere Island jumped out at me. A Few years ago I wouldn’t have dared attempt something like this, but listening to other Open Water Swimmers stories of places they have swam, I knew I had one up on them all; I had some local contacts that could help me find out more information about going around the island. Get all my information right, and I could be onto something I thought!.

And so the research started, over a year ago, talking with some Uncles and Aunts, asking some vague questions at first, which soon became more detailed when I told them what I was actually thinking!. To the best of everyone’s knowledge (and the locals would know!), no one has ever swam around Bere Island. I kept most of my planning to myself, just a handful knew I was thinking about it, I was nervous to say it out loud, firstly it’d mean I would have to do it, and secondly, someone might try and attempt it before me!. I had more questions to ask, this time I knew it would have to be from more expert people, and that would also mean that I’m saying it to non-family/friends, who might think the idea totally daft? I was willing to talk out loud. So on the August Bank holiday of this year, I knocked on the door, and walked into the local RNLI Lifeboat station in Castletownbere, about an hour later I was leaving with a date (a swim date that is!), and a boatman (to guide me!). It was now real!.

I got fantastic advice from all the crew in the RNLI, Seán is the tide man, he pinpointed exactly when I needed to go on the tide, (must be a neap tide, must swim anti-clockwise around the island, must not go on an easterly wind, must go one hour before low water to clear the harbour). Marney offered there and then to use his own rib to guide me, Paul the PR man was gathering details from me for a spiel,  So there, on August Bank Holiday Monday, the plan was set, I was going to attempt to swim around Bere Island on Saturday 31st August, the first person to do so, and while doing it, raising funds for the Castletownbere RNLI.

Smiling, I left the building, plan in hand, and went for a swim locally, and ran into hundreds of compass jellyfish!. Oh God – what am I doing!

It still took a few days for it all to sink in, and finally I mustered up the courage to say it out loud to my swimming friends and to put it out there on my blog/Facebook/twitter. Within a week I had 6 people offering to come and help me out and /or crew for the day WOW, thanks everyone, I went with first offered, first taken! (While making sure I had experienced, supportive friends with me!) Thanks to Rob Bohane, Ray McArdle, and to Owen O’Keefe for volunteering and not backing out when I bombarded them with emails of maps/ feed plans etc!.

The next part of my report will be the actual swim 🙂

15miles / 24km around Bere Island!

15miles / 24km around Bere Island!

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It’s done, first time Round Bere Island

Done and dusted, made it around Bere Island on Saturday 31st August. 24km completed in 7hr 14m. I had huge backup before/during/after the swim. Lots of stories and photos to be told, I am putting them all together for a proper report on this pioneering swim! More soon 🙂

Bere Island swim 3 (Medium)

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Countdown is on


Bere Island, this Saturday, it’s public, it’s in the media, it has to happen! Huge thanks to the Castletownbere RNLI for all their help and advice. It’s for them I am doing this.

Having watched two swimming colleagues become marathon swimmers last night on their 24km swim from Sandycove in Kinsale to Myrtleville Beach, I know I’m next. Bernard and Damian swam superbly to cover the distance, in good conditions under the watchful eye of great crew.

My crew for Saturday will be Marney (it’s his rib), and then I have 3 swimming Friends, Rob Bohane is there to have eyes on me all day, Ray McArdle is my Feeder (he will have my master plan) and Owen O’Keefe is my support swimmer (it’s an island, he has to go around it, Owen loves islands!).

I do hope to have the Sandycove Spot Tracker (TBC), I will post the link on my page when I actually get the tracker in my hand. Ray is going to look after my twitter account for the day, so will hopefully be posting pictures or updates throughout the swim. I will end up back in Castletownbere, after I (hopefully) complete a full lap of the island. I hope to start at 6.30am, and depending on the conditions on the day, I could be approx 8hours (I could also be 9hours! – weather dependent).

Right now the winds need to die off a bit, looking at the 5 day forecast ahead, it’s going to be lumpy and choppy on Saturday, but then this is Ireland, our forecast is not always 100% accurate, it may be a sunny, calm, clear, warm day.. a girl can hope. 🙂

We accomplish in proportion to what we attempt

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Steve Redmond & feed bottles

Here is a lovely little write on a random Wednesday – From Damien ONeill (Myrtleville Swimmer!)..

Myrtleville Swimmers

On my few long swims in the wetsuit last year, I used cold drinks in milk bottles.  In togs this year and needing warm drinks, the milk bottles don’t work, so I took Carol Cashell’s advice and went to The Edge to invest in a Contigo bottle.

Much to my surprise, Steve Redmond – as in, “starting his swim from Ireland to Wales at 11.30pm tonight”, Steve Redmond –  was standing at the display counter, pondering which of the bottles to choose.

Being an expert in the field, I gave him sterling advice.   I was literally off the phone to Carol being told what to get: she even sent me a picture.  I sounded like I knew what I was talking about, because Carol does and I was just parroting her.  Mr. Redmond chose what will now be known as Carol’s Bottle.  So, when he reaches Wales, I will claim the credit for the advice and…

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English Channel swim 4.8.13: The story From EllaTheMermaid

Such a fantastic Read… A Brilliant account of Ellas English Channel Swim 🙂

English Channel swim 4.8.13: The story.

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