I accidentally discovered outdoor swimming some fifteen years ago. The Athlone Sprint Triathlon in July 2006 was my first event. Having “trained” in the Bunratty Shannon Shamrock Hotel for six months prior to the event I knew was ready. Wearing my new wet suit backwards was a minor technical glitch.
A friend suggested I check out UL and the 50m pool. I joined the legendary Roxboro Sharks. On my first night swimming with them I was put in the lead position and instructed on sets, drills, paddles, fins, pull buoys and time keeping. I nearly died twice on that memorable night. Unknown to me they were all in on the joke. I had passed the strict selection process and was made a full member of the Roxboro Sharks. I have never looked back. Training indoors all winter with hot showers, steam rooms and sauna’s made perfectly good sense. Galas were next thing to be conquered. During subsequent summers I participated in numerous outdoor swims across the country.
The next thing was to join the Limerick Masters. More friends, more encouragement, more progress, more galas, and even more outdoor swimming. I set myself the goal of completing “A Trilogy of Irish Swimming” over the next few years. This comprised of the famous Cork to Cobh 15km Swim, the Francis Thornton Galway Bay 12km Swim, and the Swim Ireland 17km National Championships in Loch Erne. During these years I managed to swim 100 laps of Sandycove Island outside Kinsale as part of Ned Dennison’s Cork Distance Week.
My outdoor swimming season always started in late June and finished in early September. This was the mind-set, this was the norm, this was what normal people did. But I was watching and listening to Mark D, Mark H, Pearse, John, Donal and Brian Dillon. The seed was planted. The seed took a little while to germinate. Could I extend my outdoor swimming season? Could I give my swimming expierence a different slant? Could I swim an Ice Mile? Could winter swimming help my summer swimming?
So last year I finally made my Winter Swimming debut. Many female swimmers also made their Winter Swimming debuts. Working together we smashed it. We had great fun and games all winter. I was lucky enough to swim An Ice Mile in Camlough Lake in Fermanagh on New Year’s Day. If that wasn’t enough a further Ice Mile was completed in Two Mile Gate in February. Then lock down came and the pools were closed in March. No problem, just stay outdoors and swim into Spring.
Onwards and upwards.