Donal Self portrait b&w 95% IMG_3831_01.resized

LoneSwimmer Has No Balls

A couple of years later, I am still a little surprised that LoneSwimmer.com won the inaugural 2012 Irish Blog Awards for Best Sport and Recreation award (when the  site was also a finalist in a second category). Ireland is a sport-obsessed country, even more than many others. Football (soccer), football (rugby), football (Gaelic), football (compromise rules) and even…

the Doglet barking at Gararrus IMG_3810.resized

Copper Coast Bay to Breakers – II

Due to the goggle change the stop at Gararrus took about two minutes before I set off, the Doglet once again having a barking fit as I left (his normal reaction to me swimming). It was low tide by now so all the reefs off Gararrus were exposed and I had to swim out the…

Swimming into Gararrus IMG_3806.resized

Copper Coast Bay to Breakers – I

Sometimes an idea is so obvious you wonder why it hadn’t occurred to you previously. Ideas or inspiration though are often just a product of two things; timing and interest. It was a few years ago that I first heard about San Francisco’s South End Rowing Club’s Bay to Breakers swim. Ten kilometres swims are rarely…

Swimming out

Swimming for beginning open water swimmers and triathletes is like planting a tree. Twenty common beginner triathlete questions answered.

Swimming is very much like the old saying about planting trees.The very best time to start was ten years ago. The second best time to start was yesterday. The next best time is today. I myself did not start ten years ago but I did incrementally improve my skills and technique and open water experience and achievements.…

Swimming into the tiny cove with the Hood Tower behind.

Swimming Around Hook Head

Though it sits at the tip of the Hook peninsula, the historic Hook Head lighthouse is almost more remote than some of the Irish offshore lighthouses. The Tower of Hook, as it’s known locally, is the world’s second oldest operational lighthouse, and it’s said locally that the phrase “by Hook or by Crook” arose because…

Dark Night of The Soul

Dark Night of the Soul

Swimming for me, as for many of you my readers, provides a valuable part of my life, not least of which is the meditative and mostly non-stressful pursuit, where we swim not just in water waves, but also in alpha-waves. (Though occasionally the more dangerous the water is, the better for my mood and preference). But as…

Measuring life in metres

In the original Star Wars A New Hope movie Harrison Han Solo Ford famously said that the Millennium Falcon had “made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs“. I still remember how annoyed I was, because even as a kid I knew a parsec was a measure of distance, not of time. (No thanks,…

Copper Coast Distance Week Reefs, Rocks & Islands

2014 Cork Distance Week & the Copper Coast swim

After repeated poor wet cold summers, 2013 was pretty decent by Irish standards. Or at least mid-May to mid-July were good. After that it reverted to recent type but did allow me to run a Copper Coast Distance Week swim which had been blown out in 2012 by a ridiculous summer storm which stopped swimming everywhere that day.…

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.…

A Further Shore – III – The Harbour

Instead of a beach, shadows loomed over me and the water went from gold to black in sudden deep shade. A wall of dressed stone met my fingertips and loomed two metres over me. It was a pier, stone mooring bollards along the edge. There was another pier twenty or thirty metres away to my…

Golden light through a Copper Coast arch

A Further Shore – II – The Golden Light

I’d swum a double handful of strokes on one breath, and seen so little and yet so much. Only water, rocks, kelp, light? You don’t understand. Time to breath and navigate, I lifted my head. Golden sunlight dazzled me, washed over me. I know it had been months, the previous autumn since I’d last swum…

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…