Those of you local to Waterford will know of the annual Helvick swim fundraiser for the RNLI and many others further afield also know of it. It’s been running for many years and until last year was a closed event with a waiting list. It’s previously been about 2500 metres, with a boat drop start about 500 metres out from Ballinacourty Lighthouse. (It may be longer this year).
Last year was an attempt to open it up to a wider group. This year sees that broadened again, and my friend Clare asked me to write a training plan for locals who have been looking at the Bay for years and wanting to do it.
I put together a 12 week plan, with a basic requirement of being able to swim 800 metres in 40 minutes as the criteria for acceptance. The training plan is being emailed out weekly by the RNLI to those who have requested it.
Someone has asked if they can do 800m in 45 minutes are they eligible?
First, I’m not in charge of admission or even in running the swim in any way. So it’s not up to me.
However I set the entry level for the training plan and I think it should be adhered to.
Well, it’s not that if someone could do 800m in 45 minutes that with training they wouldn’t be able to do the Helvick.
However there has to be an entry criteria from a safety point. The fastest swimmers that I know reading this can swim about 2500m in 40 minutes. And that’s not flat-out sprinting. Someone who is swimming very much more slowly will get cold, even in the “warm” waters of August. (Warm by the standards of people used to open water).
Swimmers should be safe and retain some capacity to enjoy themselves. The point is NOT to get across having used up all your resources to do so. You should be able to swim it comfortably, not flail into Helvick pier like a drowning dog about to go down for the last time.
Most Open Water swims of this distance will have a qualification requirement. Which means that swimmers with experience tend to enter and people who want to achieve this one single goal will not. The entry requirement is actually to help inexperienced people do the swim. Most swimmers will start with a 1k or 2k organised swim.
Endurance sports require planning. If you can’t make the entry criteria, don’t take it a negative but as a target. If you achieve that then you have taken an initial step towards longer swimming. It doesn’t all have to happen this year. Swim for that target anyway, then when you get to it, swim right through it, and by next year you can cruise the Helvick swim and wonder what all the fuss was about.
It’s a fun swim and a good target for starting. Prepare for it and enjoy it.
Last year an reasonably fit pool swimmer about the same speed as me entered. That swimmer disregarded all advice on doing preparatory sea swims and ignored what I said about keeping warm beforehand. After all, they could keep up with me for an hour in the pool…That swimmer was pulled out 15 minutes into the swim because of cramps due to cold and hasn’t swam since. That does no-one good, not the RNLI, not the sport and certainly not the swimmer.
By the way, if you want to do the swim, and it’s your first big swim, if you have any questions or problems, either just leave a comment and I’ll respond to it or email me at
xpendable.email at gmail dot com.
( I get enough blog SPAM without linking my email directly).