Copper Coast Bay to Breakers – II

Due to the goggle change the stop at Gararrus took about two minutes before I set off, the Doglet once again having a barking fit as I left (his normal reaction to me swimming). It was low tide by now so all the reefs off Gararrus were exposed and I had to swim out the…

Swimming for beginning open water swimmers and triathletes is like planting a tree. Twenty common beginner triathlete questions answered.

Swimming is very much like the old saying about planting trees: The very best time to start was ten years ago. The second best time to start was yesterday. The next best time is today. But tomorrow is too late. I myself did not start ten years ago but I did incrementally improve my skills and technique…

Swimming Around Hook Head

Though it sits at the tip of the Hook peninsula, the historic Hook Head lighthouse is almost more remote than some of the Irish offshore lighthouses. The Tower of Hook, as it’s known locally, is the world’s second oldest operational lighthouse, and it’s said locally that the phrase “by Hook or by Crook” arose because…

Measuring life in metres

In the original Star Wars A New Hope movie Harrison Han Solo Ford famously said that the Millennium Falcon had “made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs“. I still remember how annoyed I was, because even as a kid I knew a parsec was a measure of distance, not of time. (No thanks,…

2014 Cork Distance Week & the Copper Coast swim

After repeated poor wet cold summers, 2013 was pretty decent by Irish standards. Or at least mid-May to mid-July were good. After that it reverted to recent type but did allow me to run a Copper Coast Distance Week swim which had been blown out in 2012 by a ridiculous summer storm which stopped swimming everywhere that day.…

July 24th, 1883

This is a maelstrom. Indeed the very definition of such, as it’s the whirlpool at the base of Niagara Falls. It’s where Captain Matthew Webb tragically died on this day, July 24th, 1883. It was taken by a photographer zxo  and it grabbed my attention immediately I saw it and they gave me permission to…

The Last Shore – IV – The Town

Subconsciously, I’d pulled the goggles from my face, feeling the familiar discomfort around my eyes as the suction released. They dangled weightless from my fingers. Above the seafront buildings rose a hill and a town. A road led through the near buildings to disappear into tiered houses that fronted a low hill. I was stunned.…

An Analysis Of Open Water Drownings

Any experienced open water swimmer will be, or at least should be familiar with evaluating personal risk on an ongoing basis. (I have written many posts about the Do’s and Don’t’s of open water). One thing we don’t talk about is drowning, because we put ourselves in the category of people unlikely to join the…

Suir River God

Swambivalence

I live on the bank of one of Ireland’s longest rivers: The river Suir. At 115 miles length, you’ll appreciate therefore that Ireland is a small country. The river flows through three counties: Tipperary, Kilkenny and Waterford. The river forms the Tipperary-Waterford border for many miles and features in the most famous Kilkenny ballad. But it is most…

The Abyss

I made the image below for my American Channel swimming friend and one of the MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming co-authors  Elaine Howley. I’ve seen a few articles on coping with open water swimming fears recently, and I though I’d take a contrary and more visual tack. If you suffer from the open water heebeejeebies,…

Swimming Glendalough Upper Lake

I didn’t significantly increase my list of new swimming locations in 2013  and have decided to rectify that in 2014, hence the recent trip to Kilmore Quay and the following weekend when we visited the valley of Glendalough in the Wicklow mountains. Situated in the Wicklow National Park, Glendalough  is one of the scenic jewels of…

Water nightmares

It’s been a while since I posted any nightmare fuel for open water swimmers, so I thought I might collect a few of my favourites together. We’ll start gently. Close encounter with a humpback. One from years ago on the blog, the frilled shark, aka dragon shark. Remember Brutus the giant Australian salt-water crocodile? A…

Riptide swimming at Kilmore Quay

Kilmore Quay, in County Wexford, right down in Ireland’s south-east corner, is one of the best known and oldest fishing harbours in the country. The village itself is small, picturesque with many thatched houses, and like the rest of the local coast, very exposed with few trees able to survive the constant onshore winds. West…

Ice Mile Dilemmas – IX – Safety Is Everything

The Average Person? As a responsible extreme cold water swimming promoting organisation, it’s frustrating that the IISA doesn’t seem to appreciate its responsibility in promoting safety and reducing risk. The three-article critique on the IISA rules comprehensively illustrate many of the inherent problems, omissions and contradictions. The concerns of my correspondents and myself with Ice…

Ice Mile Dilemmas – VIII – The Dangers

I’ve said previously that open water swimming is dangerous. Ice Mile swimming is even more dangerous. I don’t think the IISA website, which is how most people are going to interact with and learn about the IISA or Ice Mile swimming, is anywhere near as comprehensive as it needs to be on its message about…

Ice Mile Dilemmas – VI – Safety and Experience

As you will recall from the previous article the IISA says one of its primary objectives is: Promoting Safety in Extreme Swimming Events. Let’s consider that. One overseas organiser of a reputable Ice Mile swim said: “We should be going above and beyond the IISA rule to make sure someone does not die from inexperience…