Quinton Nelson, the pilot who changed the North Channel.

Finbarr Hedderman and the North Channel – IV – Just Eight Laps of Sandycove

For the early hours of the swim, Finbarr was positioned and feeding (including a third of a Turkish Delight) on the port side, while one of the SeaCat fast ferries to Belfast was rapidly approaching about a kilometre south on the starboard side. This threw a large wake which reached Fin a few minutes after his feed, bringing the…

Donaghadee Harbour Lighthouse IMG_3005_01.resized

Finbarr Hedderman and the North Channel – III – Anyone for an early morning dip?

There are three overarching obstacles with the North Channel, all similar to the English Channel but two at least are usually worse. The first that had already affected us in the earlier call then stand-down, then call again, was the very unpredictable weather, similar to the English Channel. The North Channel just happens to be another 200…

Finbarr & Craig argue before the swim. Craig says Fin is getting off easy as he won't be stuck with me on a boat for a day.

Finbarr Hedderman and the North Channel – II – Famous Pilot, Famous Boat

Finbarr, Craig Morrison and I arrived in Donaghadee on Saturday evening after a long drive. A not-so-brief trip around a Bangor supermarket saw we accumulate the usual Channel swim expedition-load of food, stopped off at our accommodation and proceeded to meet pilot North Channel Quinton Nelson on board the boat down in Donaghadee before sunset…

Niagara maelstrom

July 24th, 1883

This is a maelstrom. Indeed the very definition of such, as it’s the whirlpool at the base of Niagara Falls. It’s where Captain Matthew Webb tragically died on this day, July 24th, 1883. It was taken by a photographer zxo  and it grabbed my attention immediately I saw it and they gave me permission to…

A Further Shore – V- The Greensward

Swimming is a lot of things to different people at different times, even to me. But what it isn’t, is a method of travel. We may travel long distances while swimming, we may even be swimming to a destination, but we are not traveling per se.  But somehow, I’d traveled. The buildings stopped before I…

A Further Shore – IV – The Town

Subconsciously, I’d pulled the goggles from my face, feeling the familiar discomfort around my eyes as the suction released. They dangled weightless from my fingers. Above the seafront buildings rose a hill and a town. A road led through the near buildings to disappear into tiered houses that fronted a low hill. I was stunned.…

Burke's Island & reefs, Kilfarassey

A Further Shore – I – The Arch

Winter reduces my range. I swim at the Guillamenes, along the cliffs and shore of Tramore Bay.  Maybe, just maybe, I might get down to Sandycove for a lap. Days pass when I see no-one, arriving, swimming and leaving without a soul. Spring comes with almost imperceptibly warming water and air and increase in the number…

wm_Custom House Keystones (6)

Swambivalence

I live on the bank of one of Ireland’s longest rivers: The river Suir. At 115 miles length, you’ll appreciate therefore that Ireland is a small country. The river flows through three counties: Tipperary, Kilkenny and Waterford. The river forms the Tipperary-Waterford border for many miles and features in the most famous Kilkenny ballad. But it is most…

The Sum of All Fears

The Abyss

I made the image below for my American Channel swimming friend and one of the MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming co-authors  Elaine Howley. I’ve seen a few articles on coping with open water swimming fears recently, and I though I’d take a contrary and more visual tack. If you suffer from the open water heebeejeebies,…

Scout The Doglet awaits my return

Swimming Glendalough Upper Lake

I didn’t significantly increase my list of new swimming locations in 2013  and have decided to rectify that in 2014, hence the recent trip to Kilmore Quay and the following weekend when we visited the valley of Glendalough in the Wicklow mountains. Situated in the Wicklow National Park, Glendalough  is one of the scenic jewels of…

and then there's this thing lampray eel

Water nightmares

It’s been a while since I posted any nightmare fuel for open water swimmers, so I thought I might collect a few of my favourites together. We’ll start gently. Close encounter with a humpback. One from years ago on the blog, the frilled shark, aka dragon shark. Remember Brutus the giant Australian salt-water crocodile? A…

The white line of the rip can be seen on the horizon, along with St. Patrick's Rock.

Riptide swimming at Kilmore Quay

Kilmore Quay, in County Wexford, right down in Ireland’s south-east corner, is one of the best known and oldest fishing harbours in the country. The village itself is small, picturesque with many thatched houses, and like the rest of the local coast, very exposed with few trees able to survive the constant onshore winds. West…

Ice Mile Dilemmas – IX – Safety Is Everything

The Average Person? As a responsible extreme cold water swimming promoting organisation, it’s frustrating that the IISA doesn’t seem to appreciate its responsibility in promoting safety and reducing risk. The three-article critique on the IISA rules comprehensively illustrate many of the inherent problems, omissions and contradictions. The concerns of my correspondents and myself with Ice…

Celtic triskele, symbol of Manannan

The Crowded Oceans: Swimming with Spirits

It is unsurprising that primitive peoples, faced with a world whose range and patterns they couldn’t comprehend or predict, imbued all aspects thereof with a supernatural aspect. Before the development of monotheism, the belief in a single god, often traced to Egyptian Pharoah Akhenaten in the Fourteenth Century B.C., that desire to invest every natural force or occurrence with a…

Coffee and Oatmeal stout Dungarvan Brewing Company IMG_0861.resized

Review: Is this the ultimate open water swimmer’s beer?

Craft beers are the thing, right? Local, interesting, more flavour, more fun. One of humanity’s oldest craft’s giving the blandness of the global industrial homogenisation of food and taste a hopeful poke in the eye. One of the better things of living in Ireland, because of the country’s still large agricultural sector, is our access to local fresh food…