An Snámh Fada 2011

A last-minute decision was made. What the hell, I might as well do it. It’s the closest swim and the swim run by (one) of my own clubs and at my most regular swimming location. I’d met a few of the club regulars the day before when I made a failed attempt at my own Mo Snámh  Fada Mór (My Big Long Swim), swimming across the bay and back unaccompanied .

Newtown and Guillamene swimming club has been in existence since the 1930’s. I’ve just started putting together a website for it (though there’s nothing much there yet).

Every year in late July or early August, depending on tides, the Club runs An Snámh Fada (The Long Swim, a swim from the Guillamene to Tramore Pier, a little over 1 kilometre. Essentially too short for me, I’m not a sprinter. And you know, swimming down to the pier and back is still a short swim, for early spring colder water only.

Still, I thought I might as well swim it once for fun. Dee & I and the dogs got there early. It was even more boring for Dee than normal as I was constantly meeting and chatting with all the club members and some other like local artist Vanessa Daws and her friend James.

Spot the tanned Loneswimmer

An Snámh Fada has the ugliest swim caps ever. That makes sure no one will want to keep them. They’re cloth so even if you did, they’re useless.

Club Member Joe gave a quick briefing about 11.20, then we were coralled like sheep into a steel dipping-pen for the start at the steps. Room for only about 4 abreast, with 60 swimmers signed up, I made my way to the front waiting group, climbing through the railings to get forward.

Joe had said, this is not a race. What this really means for many of us is, it is a race, but there are no prizes!

Flat for the swim

The bay was flat. Only slightest Force One airs. A pity. I prefer racing in rough conditions.They allow me to use my experience more. Flat short course is too much like a big swimming pool.

Denis gave us the go and we were off. For this course I had three options, narrow, wide or down the middle. The sea being so flat, wide was not the right move. But most of the remainder of the others to go out fast were already pulling ahead, as usual.

Youth, doesn’t it make you want to grit your teeth sometimes? They were heading down the middle. I went narrow, in toward the Colomene rocks. I felt I’d be only one doing it, and I was correct, (in so far as I could tell). I seem to have a thing for rocks, as has been seen here previously.

By the time we’d passed the Colomenes, about 400 metres out the lead group had well dropped me and there was fair gap back to the main group. I’m not that fast, I don’t like these sprints. I’m too old!

Even on a short race, the field quickly spread outs. Click to embiggen.

At 500 metres I saw I was closing on two wet-suited swimmers. I followed my line, and was getting closer and closer. Quickly we were beside each other. One adult male, one teenager. Sorry. The teenager got squeezed out. I was google to google with the man. He cracked. They were gone. Two more down.

Straight to the pier. The line was important. There was another non-wetsuit male swimmer outside me. 300 metres to go. I know exactly how the pier lines up. I kept narrow. I was closing. 100 metres to go. I was level and on the inside. 25 metres to go, still level but I had less to swim. He didn’t seem to know I was there. Unless he had a big final sprint, I was in.

And so it proved. I took about 20 seconds out of him at the end. Up the pier steps, a quick check with Denis, I was sixth overall but first non-wetsuit. Ironically a slow time of about 17 minutes due the flat conditions. It’s always the same, whenever I pick up a first, there’s never any shinies. But I enjoy myself regardless, indeed regardless of place.

Then a dive off the pier end, and swim back on the outside to the Guillamene. There’s no way I was swimming such a short distance and walking back.

After we took a trip to Dunmore East. On arrival we discovered there was cruise ship in the Estuary.

We went down around the rocks below the village.

And we took the dogs out onto the cliffs and rocks below the road and park. Each section of the cliffs and every tiny cove in Dunmore has a different name and access point, all quite old.

What's that? Over there. And there. And there.



There was a big Farmer’s and Artisan’s market on in the harbour which was very busy with thousands of visitors around the piers, the adventure centre and sailing club and around the village.



Waterbuses were taking trips out to the cruise ship and there were yachts, power boats, cruisers and ribs.

Scout was interested in everything. But the other dogs, not so much, they’ve seen it all.



There were plenty of good stalls, including a great Lebanese stall, which had the dogs interested and hopeful. In fact it was one of those occasions where dogs owners could happily mingle.

Dunmore East is a big fishing harbour and fish market and distribution centre.

There are newer large trawlers and a sizeable fleet of traditional fishing vessels, which were all moored together and looked very picturesque, in the way of fishing harbours the world over.


There were apperently disinterested anglers fishing on the rocks beyond the pier end,.

As we were heading toward the car, we passed Dunmore’s thatched cottages.

The sun just started to appear as we left the village up the hill, and the estuary and cliffs beyond Councellors Cove looked great through the pines.

The dogs were tired and thirsty.

And we weren’t even done for the day.

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