Say my little swimming ditty out loud, it both scans and rhymes, a major achievement for me. :-) (It works for me, but you see, I really can’t write good poetry).
When you swim the same open water locations regularly, they become familiar to you in the way the road outside your house does. maybe more so for a lot of people, because every metre is immediate, all progress is measured by arm-strokes, by body-lengths, by climbing and pulling your way through the all-too yielding water, the molecules slipping and sliding away.
When you are swimming in cold water you have time. You are connected to the world, everything surrounding you, that you can see, is real, and in a way, nothing else is.
The repeat swim distances in Tramore and Sandycove are different. A Sandycove Double, two laps, takes 50 to 55 minutes for the wider range of swimmers (3200 to 3800 metres). A Guillamene Double, out to Newtown Head, into the pier or the beach and back, which is my own standard as almost no-one else is around to swim it, is much further, taking about one hour and forty minutes, so the shorter winter laps are to the pier and back (40 to 45 minutes) or Newtown Head and back (35 to 40 minutes).
In Sandycove we mark our lap progress by the First Corner, Second Corner, and Red House. Second Corner is the half way mark, and the by-now famous Red House, emblazoned on the SISC t-shirt, marks the final sprint, only about three or four minutes out from the slip.
Tramore Bay has two possible initial swim directions. (Sandycove does too, but we almost never swim clockwise, to have done so is probably a sign of a Sandycove Veteran). Unlike Sandycove, there’s no fixed lap in Tramore. When swimming inwards toward the pier, the first landmark are the Comalees rocks, popular with fishermen, and where the most recent cave on the coast has collapsed (sometime in the last 50 years).
After turning at the pier, or under the Coast Guard station or Doneraile Head, or at the beach, the next marker is the stand of pine trees about 200 metres before the pier, above the coast road. Usually the worst part of the swim because it’s often the place where a slight contrary current slows you down, and you seem to spend five minutes looking at those trees.
Then the long haul back toward the Comalees, but on the return, it’s no longer the Comalees, but instead the Yellow Bungalow, above the Comalees, the last house you pass on the return and just under 400 metres from the Cove, time for that sprint.