Tag Archives: Billy Kehoe

Images of 2013 – 1 – Swimming People

I wrapped up 2012 with a few posts on some photos I’d taken through the year related to swimming. About the time I writing those posts, I embarked on what is known as a 365 Project, taking a photograph (often many more) every day for a year, which I completed this week. (I started it thanks to Sandycove swimmer Riana Parsons and those 365 photographs can be seen on my Blipfoto account.

Portraiture is a difficult aspect of photography for some, including me, as it requires either a willingness to demand co-operation from subjects or a constant almost covert imposition of a camera. I’m not comfortable with either, but I have been learning to pursue the form. The number of portrait photographs from the year is still low and time goes by when I completely forget to take any.

So here are a few of my preferred shots of swimming people from the year. Once again, i chose mainly based on photographic merit rather than any personal relationships, but the range illustrates, I think, what attracts us about this sport, the people we met, the friends we make.

David IMG_0256.resized

My swimming Dad: David Frantzeskou, along with Evelyn, the owner of Varne Ridge Caravan Park outside Dover, one of my favourite places and amongst my favourite people, with so many different and enduring memories. It took some convincing of both David & Evelyn that this was a shot that I was proud of, displaying that slightly perplexed look we know so well on David’s face.

Getting ready IMG_8674.resized

I was fortunate to be part of another World Record English Channel swim crew for the second year in a row, this time with my friend Sylvain Estadieu. While images of Sylvain butterflying away from the White Cliffs or standing triumphant with the French tricoloeur are popular, this one is my favourite, the moments before the swim, a glimpse into Sylvain.

Liam MaherOn a grey day in summer we took to a few laps of Sandycove to wish our 2013 Manhattan Island Sandycove swimmers, Liam, Carol & Lisa the best. One of my shortlived waterproof cameras from this year (three!) caught a typical Liam Maher pose, English channel swimmer in front of Sandycove’s famous Red House (now beige). The Red House is used to mark final 400 metre sprints, the best line for the slipway and for the marathon swimmers of the club, could be seen from about two kilometres out for those who have braved the Speckled Door to Sandycove swim. The laugh on Liam’s face is entirely typical.

Eoin, Carol & MaeveIMG_9712.resizedAfter the Global Swim Conference visitors had all left the island, there were a few local Sandycovers hanging around chatting. Probably eating cake. Left is Eoin O’Riordan, middle is Carol Cashell and right is Maeve Moran. Eoin joined Carol in an English Channel two-way relay team as a substitute and did some great training, and the team went on to set a new two-way six person national English Channel record, after Carol had returned from getting second placed lady in the Manhattan Island Marathon swim. Maeve is another Sandycove regular and perennial and invaluable volunteer who will be swimming an English Channel relay next year.

Sakura & Nick IMG_9444_02.resized

Nick Adams, President of the CS&PF and multiple English Channel soloist and other swims, celebrates being inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as the Global Open Water Conference in Cork. With him is English Channel solo and many other swims, Dr. Sakura Hingley. Nick and Sakura had been married only recently, on August 25th, the anniversary of Captain Matthew Webb’s first English Channel solo. Both have been promising me articles for this blog for over two years. I am starting to lose hope.

Lisa IMG_9716_01.resizedMy very good friend Lisa Cummins, now living down-under and getting a free summer, well-known to all as one of the legendary two-way English channel swimmers. Lisa and I were once again on a few adventures this year, and therefore she had to put up with many attempts at portrait shots by me before I finally found one I was pleased with, in Sandycove of course.

Ray IMG_9237_01.resizedRay is a member of the Newtown and Guillamenes swimming club, my other (non-racing) club. Every day of the summer, from May until the end of September, Ray empties the bins, picks up rubbish and litter, keeps the coves and lawns of  Newtown and Guillamenes pristine, and even cleans the public toilets for the tourists, after the town council refused to so do. Ray is one the quiet heroic volunteers without whom no club in the world could survive and I have enormous respect for him.


Left to right, Ciáran Byrne, Eddie Irwin, Craig Morrison, , me being manhandled, Finbarr Hedderman in back and Liam Maher, after a spring swim in Sandycove. Channel Soloists all. I didn’t take this shot, but handed the camera to Maura (Hynzie) Morrison. When you are being manhandled by Finbarr (6’4″) & Liam (6’8″) it’s like being caught in a landslide, there’s no fighting it. It’s good to have such friends.

President Billy_MG_7754.resized

Billy Kehoe, President of the Newtown and Guillamenes swimming club, 85 years old, and swimming at the Guillamenes for 75 years. I don’t think a single occasion has passed over the years that Billy hasn’t used the same joke with me, that I am not to swim past the Saltees (Islands), despite my offering to write him some new material. Billy is currently working on a history of the Newtown and Guillamenes swimming club that hopefully is almost near completion and to which I am really looking forward and will hopefuly publish her and on the club website, which I have completely neglected .

Paul Foreman IMG_8489.resized

Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation pilot and gentleman, Paul Foreman. Formerly of Pace Arrow, now of the Channel fleet’s best boat, Optimist, pilot for Gábor Molnar and Jen Hurley and our tragically lost friend Páraic Casey, Paul holds a special place of affection for many Sandycove swimmers who know him and were friends of Páraic.

Freda IMG_8419.resized

If you were to come up with any list of the ten most important people in the history of Channel swimming, Freda Streeter would be on that list. Mother of Alison, the Queen of the Channel and CS&PF Channel pilot Neil, Freda has trained hundreds of Channel swimmers and was instrumental in the formation of the CS&PF. For thirty years every weekend from May until September, with Barrie and Irene Wakeham and many others who assist, Freda runs a free Channel training camp for all comers.

Roger Finch IMG_8411.resized

I finally met cheeky chappie and South African Channel soloist Roger Finch in Varne Ridge, where all Channel swimmers eventually meet and then one day on Dover beach. He was training with Otto Thaining, whom I briefly met later. Otto was training to be the oldest Channel Soloist. Roger and I knew many people in common. Unfortunately Otto got weathered out, but my money is on him both returning and being successful next year. With the ebullient  Roger in his crew he’s all set.

Owen O' Keeffe closeup

My young friend Owen, the Fermoy Fish and I voyaged together again this year, most notably on his pioneering Blackwater swim. After Trent Grimsey’s swim last year, I’d come to the conclusion I may have taken my best ever photo of a swimmer. I guess my development as a photographer now leads to me realise that was a laughable conceit.  Reviewing my pics of the year, I’m currently of the belief this is the current best photo of a swimmer I’ve taken, getting past the stroke, the conditions, and inside Owen, as close metaphorically as I can get into another swimmer’s mind.

Group shot_MG_6640.resized

During Sandycove Distance Week, about 20 of the less lazy of the swimmers came over for a swim with me on the Copper Coast. It was one of the best days of the bet summer in a generation. There were complaints about the water being too warm! granted, this photo wasn’t chosen for its photographic merit, but for the sheer pleasure I derived from so many visitors.

Dee on Kilfarrassey Beach B&W _MG_5674.resized

Constrained as I am from publishing a photo of her, here’s my silent partner in most adventures and supporter in others. 

I look to meeting you all and capturing your images in 2014.


Against the odds, one loneswimmer and the football hordes

Ireland loves football. So does your country you say. Soccer, Aussie Rules or NFL, whatever.

Ireland likes all football: Soccer, rugby, compromise (Aussie) rules, Gaelic football. All have huge followings. That outnumbers your single national football version. And the biggest is Gaelic football, which is only played within the country and is better supported than religion.

Blog Awards Finalist

Someone submitted loneswimmer.com to Blog Awards Ireland this year (2012). So it’s me against the football hordes. No, I’m not looking for a vote. Thankfully there is no voting, because online voting, as you all know, is nonsense.

I knew nothing about it until someone Tweeted me that I was on the Longlist for four categories. Then I made the Shortlist on three categories. Then I made the Finalists of four entries for Sports & Recreation. Each time I found out from someone else. I guess Sports & Recreation is a valid category, since there’s no specific Talking Crap about Swimming from the Middle of Nowhere award. Yet. They really should fix that.

We went and took a few pictures for fun. Well it wasn’t for fun per se, it was to try to get two tickets for the award ceremony. This isn’t Tinsletown after all. Tinsletown in the Rain, more like.

Tinseltown in the rain, all men and women.

Here we are, caught up in this big rhythm…

…But it’s easy come and it’s easy go.

All this talking is only bravado.

When Dee tried to enter the photos, she discovered they’d closed the competition before they announced the finalists who might want to be there. Cart -> Horse. Funny.

You want to know what the number one rule of blogging is? Actually that’s not relevant here. But a rule from further down the list is…

No-one reads your blog on Saturday.

Not quite no-one, but usually less than 50% of your daily average. Bloggers, never publish a post on Saturday. Guess when Blog Awards Ireland put out their list of finalists? Yes, Saturday. I may possibly be the only one who finds this hilarious. :-)

But as I said, we took some pics, and they’re of a use-once-only type. So this post is entirely to find an excuse to use them. (Note to self: Pretend you didn’t see this picture below, you’ll sleep better.)

Here’s a fun picture. Swimming over to Ballyheigue, as the rock at the far side of the Guillamenes Cove is called, for no apparent reason other than every damn tree, field and individual rock in Ireland has a name, to take a photo, the water pulled the laminate and Dee caught the image perfectly.There was quite a bit of movement in the water, about two metres of mixed chop and swell and it was windy and grey.

So anyway, back to the football hordes. More power to them I guess. But it seems highly unlikely I’ll have a chance against the football hordes. And it’s not that important, just nice, as they say, to get this far.

Open water swimming is a minority sporting niche in a minority sport. It’s a sport when I train, sport when I race, but that’s not all. It’s part of my life. It is life. Open water swimmers are not defined by watching, so much as we are defined by doing, individually and in groups, solo and with friends. A couple of years ago I started this blog by saying open water swimming is an individual expression of freedom. Sometimes I think it may be an essential expression of freedom. In this constrained world, few people know the freedom experienced by stepping off a shore and casting oneself into the blue, grey or green.

An open water swimmer is Billy Kehoe, 85 years of age, President of the Newtown and Guillamene swimming club, swimming daily (when the conditions allow) for over 70 years. Billy doesn’t think of open water swimming as a sport.

And most of you readers come from outside Ireland anyway.

Still, the point of the whole thing, I guess, is that a conjunction of critical and popular acclaim is nice. Loneswimmer.com will reach 200,000 readers around the new year, assuming I’m still writing it, and that’s not always certain and the appreciation of readers will always be the most important measurement. Making that finalist list I guess, I may be wrong, means there’s some independent merit visible from outside the core swimmers.

All that mattered to me since I began is to be honest in what I write, and try to make it useful. To that end I’ve put up with significant “slagging” to use an Irish term, “ribbing”  would be an alternative word. I guess that the blog is still occasionally on target because you good folks keep putting up with me. Oh, by the way, I rarely think of you when I’m writing. It’s just me here. If I try to direct stuff, it goes wrong mostly. I write for the me from the past, what the me who knew nothing about open water swimming would have wanted to know. I think as that past me as my audience. That seems narcissistic, it’s not meant to be. And then, because of the blog, I’ve gotten to report on a world record, crew for a friend and to feature the words of many great and interesting swimmers in the Guest Article series. I’ve already won a lot from this.

Below is our favourite picture from this series. As usual Dee is the invisible backroom engine who keeps me and therefore this blog going.

I got free goggles from the blog once.