The Cave of Light and The Cave of Birds – A film of the pure essence of open water swimming – by Sam Krohn

Sam Krohn is an Australian open water swimmer, resident in the south-east of Ireland since his family moved here when he was young, Sam’s a regular swimmer at my own usual location of Tramore’s Newtown and Guillamenes coves. He’s also a regular reader of and the most regular commenter to this blog. Sam and I kept missing opportunities to go for swim together in 2013, but at the end of this (2014) summer, he and I were due to meet for a swim out to the caves so that Sam could do a bit of filming.

September in Ireland in 2014 was extraordinarily good, the best I’ve experienced since I started swimming. We’d set a day for the swim out, not too concerned about weather, used as we both are to the local conditions.

But the day was gorgeous and warm with a little movement in the water and a bit of a breeze. We had a very enjoyable swim starting around low tide. It was entirely relaxed and fun, one of those days when open water swimming is about the pure enjoyment of the water and the glorious Copper Coast. As we swam I strove to avoid Sam’s filming in the cave and around the coast.

Over the years, I have on occasion tried to convey various aspects of the sensations of open water swimming. Not the mechanics of the How To articles, not the marathon and Channel swimming stuff, essential as they are, but the feelings and experiences and joy and essential life-enhancing experience of swimming because I enjoy it.  Only occasionally have I felt that I’ve succeeded.

I think that Sam, partly because I was unknowing of what he was actually doing, caught the pure essence of our enjoyment of open water swimming and for that I am very grateful and humbled.

Out, out from the Guillamenes, past the Metalman, beyond the cliffs and the bulk of Great Newtown Head, alone around the stacks and into the caves, extremely unlikely to be seen from land: we were in no hurry. So we swam and stopped and chatted and swam.

It may be that this film only means anything to Sam and I, but I hope you watch it. It’s 18 minutes long and it absolutely requires sound as becomes really obvious later in the film.  If you do watch it, I’d ask that you do it when you have time to watch it through and don’t skip or fast forward.

Don’t analyse my stroke (I didn’t swim hard or think of stroke, speed or distance once that day). Don’t think about racing or distance or wind or doing it better. Just … go with it.

Uaimh an tSolais & Uaimh na nÉan are Irish names and mean the Cave of the Light and the Cave of the Birds.

Try to feel the sensation, the essence. 

And if you are so inclined please leave feedback for Sam, either on Vimeo or here.

Edit: Uaimh an tSolais & Uaimh na nÉan and Sam and myself have been nominated for the 2014 WOWSA Offering of the Year Awards. If you want to vote please follow the link.

Vimeo link

YouTube link




27 thoughts on “The Cave of Light and The Cave of Birds – A film of the pure essence of open water swimming – by Sam Krohn

  1. I received an email a couple of weeks back about a book being written called ‘A Journey in time with Anna Russ’ its a project that she is very excited about. I was asked to submit some thoughts ideas or personal experience of growing up with Anna. Given that there is a fair bit said about Anna in the above film I felt that the email communication below should be posted here.

    Dear Anna and Brooke

    This project sounds great!

    When I think of Anna I often think of my father Klaus, a man who through circumstance I have spent very little time with. Anna you won’t have heard this one before but If ever there was a time that I was proud of and looked up to my dad it was because of you! Mention the word Klaus and your eyes would light up and if he showed up then Anna you alone would give the Irish all of them a run for their money with the welcome you gave to him. It was the human spirit connecting in its purest form beautiful to watch and something I will hold onto forever.

    Let me know how the project is going. If you have any questions or would like any photos just ask.


    Hi Sam loved the email. Anna and I and half the staff at Araluen have watched and read your words today. You made all of us tear up except Anna who was laughing.

    The local MP Danielle Green who is a member of parliament and knows Peter, Jane and Anna has agreed to write the forward for Anna’s Book so that’s exciting. She often mentions Anna in parliament if she is talking about issues that concern family and disability.

    Small world turns out that my daughter ( Maya) is best friends with Meg Jacka who is Klaus’s granddaughter ( Danny Jacka is her Dad). Can’t believe it!!!!!


  2. At the beginning of September in Folkestone I went for a swim….I have been in everyday, mostly off St Margarets at Cliff near Dover and in Dover Harbour. The film and your webpage/blogs are informative (learning curve for me) and inspirational…I just love being a part of the sea…I’m keeping warm before and getting my warm kit on quick with a hot drink after…yesterday I did about 40 min in between 12 and 14 c water…I will swim through the winter because there’s nothing in the world that makes me feel so alive………I will never stop…..not now


    • Thanks for the comments Tony – and best of luck swimming into the winter!

      If you haven’t already I highly recommend reading Donal’s post titled ‘Cold water immersion and cold-shock, the first three minutes’ now is the perfect time to train this skill before the much colder months hit. Sometimes before a cold swim I will find excuses and distractions and even long bouts of silence anything to take my mind away from the approaching discomfort. However one aspect that I have grown to love about cold water swimming is the discipline at the waters edge. The focus and commitment, vigorously splashing the face and chest with cold water before slipping into the ocean with controlled deep breathing allowing the body to adjust to the cold shock and lowered heart rate before setting any pace and rhythm.

      No matter the distance this sets a baseline foundation for the swim ahead by developing mental toughness in remaining calm under difficult circumstances. As an example and drawing from personal experience I have found on occasion that The Next Three Minutes……… when plan A has failed are much like The First Three Minutes….. an exercise in control both physically and mentally of the situation whilst transitioning to plan B, C or D and so on.

      All the best


    • Thanks Phil, I didn’t know until Sam told me last night. After a week we just still don’t really know the real reaction to it and we’re still wondering how we can get it seen more.

      BTW, I was ill all last week and owe you a response to your previous comment, but couldn’t manage it. Will catch up soon.


  3. Pingback: Basic Open Water Film Rig | Uaimh Camera Rig

  4. What great footage! You have certainly captured the lure of open water and brightened up the first day of winter. Already looking forward to some calmer water. We are fortunate to have such beautiful, naturally wild spots for swimming which are reasonably accessible. There is something magical indeed about the caves of this coastline. Well done and I too will share.


  5. Mesmerising! Fantastic film.
    Makes me want to swim in open water. I need to improve my swimming and confidence a lot though, before I go for the dream of taking the plunge outdoors.


      • Are there any guidelines to what you should be able to do in the pool before you make the transition outside? I’m practicing sighting and trying to relax and enjoy the stroke, but still find it difficult to breathe on both sides – is that essential for open water? So many seem to breathe both left and right. I guess more practice needed.


        • It’s hard for a bilateral breather (like myself) to say it’s not essential, but I know some very fast and successful open water swimmers who only breathe unilaterally. They however have a lot of experience. I think of it as a very useful skill, more useful in open water than pool. I would encourage at least that you keep practising it. If you are working with a coach, they should be able to help address what might be the issue. As for getting in open water, I think you can do it was early as you like, because every trip, even on very short swims, adds to your experience. A pool is always the same, but open water changes, and even watching the local conditions in varying weather is essential experience. I think if you can swim 1k in the pool, and open water is part of your aim, then you are good to start.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful film LS and Sam. Great editing, pacing and music and very well shot. The POV offered by the (gopro?) is unique and puts the viewer right in the water. Hope this gets the wide audience it deserves (have ye suggested it to – they love stuff like this). To anybody who ever asks the question, ‘why do you jump in the sea for long swims?’ this would be the perfect explanation without having to say a word. Great job lads.
    Makes me really want to sweim that section of coast now. Maybe next year…
    (ps – for the VT nerds among us Sam – what was your kit and rig for this? Gopro on a head strap and that’s it?)


  7. I think the film is utterly beautiful with hypnotic and mesmerising qualities and does give the sense of the ‘life enhancing experience of (open water) swimming’ which I experience so very much.
    Can I post a link to the film on my Facebook timeline as I would love to share it with family and friends. If that is not acceptable I quite understand.
    Best wishes


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