I don’t want to be accused of hypocrisy, given my own habits and the site name. So I deliberately didn’t write much originally about Open Water Rule Number One, though I’ve mentioned it in passing quite a few times.
But I would also be less than honest if I avoid it completely.
Open water swimming Rule Number One is: Never Swim Alone.
Okay, so it’s obvious why I want to be careful.
In fact it was in my mind the day I started the site, so that context might be useful again.
Though there a few experienced people along the Waterford coast, I started swimming OW with and because of Clare, (as she is sick of me saying, I think). I also had years of surfing experience, something which led to me feeling fairly comfortable along much of our coast. At the time there only a few OW swimmers here, most of whom were focused on doing the Helvick swim. And I wanted to learn so I started swimming more by myself, gradually trying to learn the spots myself. At the start Clare introduced me to Ballinagaul so I only swam there for a few months. Then I added Ballydowane, Sandycove and then the Guillamenes. Sometimes I pushed myself in areas I didn’t know well. Yes I swam Sandycove before the Guillamenes. (My very first swim of Sandycove was solo lap, my second swim there was a solo double lap). Each time I swam them in various conditions and tides and studied them a lot, using my surfing eye to watch for channels, rocks and rips. By the time I started the site, I knew all these locations (and more like Bunmahon, Tramore beach, Annestown, Kilmurrin, Dunmore) like the back of my hand.
Some locations are very predictable (e.g. the Cunnigar, very safe, left), some take more experience (the Metalman) and some are dangerous (Bunmahon).
As I have often said, and including in my first post, while I love swimming with my friends, I also like swimming alone. So there’s no point in me pontificating and sticking the usual caveat “never swim alone” at the bottom of my emails, or on every post. We’re all adults. We make, in as much as the world and our psyches allow us, our own choices.
I do tell inexperienced swimmers to be careful, to swim with others.
The sea is dangerous and we shouldn’t forget that. It also boons an extraordinary freedom and sense of peace. To explore and enjoy the marine coastal environment, knowing it as well as you can is a good start. The HowTos on the top menu bar should be useful for some of you to so do.