Yes, I know it’s been about six months since I lasted posted anything! I think I’ll use college as an excuse this time, but really I’ve had very little to write about. One thing that I neglected to do at the end of 2013 was to sum up how the year went, so I might as well do that now… The highlights of the open water season for me were:
- Winning the 5 km at GaddinAbtGarnish with a new PB of 1:08:24 (my report here).
- Swimming in the Martin Duggan Memorial Swim for the first time (my report here).
- Setting a new Irish record for an English Channel 2-way relay with my friends on team Crosóige Mara in July (my report here).
- Setting a new male record for Round Jersey also in July (my report here).
- Swimming around the Old Head of Kinsale and through the tunnel connecting Holeopen Bays East and West with Ned Denison.
- Completing the first ever non-stop swim from Fermoy to Youghal (60 km down my own River Blackwater) in just over 12 hours in August (my report here).
- Winning the Irish 10 km Championships in Camlough Lake, Co. Armagh just a week later (my report here).
- Of course, swimming in VI Marnaton “eDreams” Cadaqués in Catalonia with some amazing company (my report here).
I will have another post coming very soon (within a few days, hopefully) about how this winter has been going in the pool. It has been very different from previous winters I’ve gone through, especially in recent years…
Is soiléir fén dtaca so go bhfuil an samhradh imthithe slán uainn. Ní’l aon amharc ar na fáinleoga anso i Mainistir Fhear Maí, cé go dtuigtear dom go bhfuil roinnt díobh fós le feiscint thiar i gCiarraí. Le cúpla lá anuas, tá gálaí gaoithe is ceathanna uafásacha istoíche agus gan ach fo-radharc ar an ngréin isló. Tá na tráthnónta ag éirí níos giorra de réir a chéile agus beidh an oíche níos sia ná an lá gan ró-mhoill. Tá an geimhreadh ag teacht, ní’l aon dabht fén spéir faoi!
Dá bharr san, táim thar n-ais ins an linn snámha don chuid is mó agus ní’l fonn dá laghad orm bheith istigh ins an Abhainn Mhóir nó ins an lochán ar Chnoc an Aonaigh nó ins an bhfairrge fiú. Ag an am gcéanna, táim thar n-ais ag an ollscoil ag tosnú mo thríú bliana ann ag déanamh céim san eiceolaíocht. Maidin Chéadaoin, bíonn sé de nós agam dul isteach chuig an linn snámha ins an Muirdíg agus bualadh le Lisa Cummins i gcomhair caife i ndiaidh san – comhartha maith go bhfuil sé ‘na gheimhreadh againn! An tseachtain seo, do tháinig aoi speisialta im’ theannta: Tara Diversi ón Astráil… Do bhí maidin (is tráthnóinín) ana-dheas ag an dtriúir againn ag ráiméis fé gach aon tsaghas ruda a bhaineann leis an snámh fén aer. Bail ó Dhia ar bhuachaill-chara Tara go raibh air éisteacht linn!
Sin é an scéal mar atá sé fén dtráth so. Ní’l mórán eile le rá agam, i ndá ríribh, ach go bhfuil an-chuid obair le déanamh agam maidir le cúrsaí oideachais! Táimíd ag tnúth le rás deireanach an tséasúir ó Inis Earcáin go Dún na Séad an deireadh seachtaine seo chugainn agus go mór mhór le Comhdháil Dhomhanda an tSnámha fén Aer a bheidh á reachtáil i gCorcaigh an deireadh seachtaine dar gcionn. Sin é go fóillín…
This year has seen many new additions to the Irish open water swimming calendar. Among these new swims was the Great Wicklow 10 km Swim | Snámh Mhór Chill Mhantáin, which took place on Sunday, 22 September. This was a tide assisted swim between the towns of Bray and Greystones on Ireland’s east coast. Ger Kennedy and the rest of the team did a fantastic job with the organisation of this event and are continuing to think big about expanding the event for next year and also running other events in Dublin and the surrounding area. I look forward to taking part in one or more of these events myself!
Conditions on the day were best described as “mixed”. It was a warm, sunny, dry day on the east coast and we had a favourable tide assisting us in our point-to-point swim from Bray south to Greystones. However, there was a stiff southeasterly breeze which was about the worst direction that it could be coming from! Times were still faster than a 10 km in still water, though – I finished in 2 hours 18 minutes. I don’t think that I swam particularly well in this race but I did win the male non-wetsuit category so was happy enough. It was a fun day out, in any case, especially with four Cork swimmers – Carol Cashell, Eoin O’Riordan, Liz Buckley and myself – taking part. Carol did a very good write-up on the swim so I’ll just direct you to that (link below) instead of writing my own…
- Last Weekend of Sea Races (SwimmersRock.com)
(Cont’d from Part 1) Starting at the front of the crowd and off to the right, I had pretty clear water all round me – until a handful of us swam straight into a kayak, that was! It was a surreal experience seeing Damián Blaum next to me in the water for a short while. How often do we get to compete with the top athletes in any sport? As we rounded the first bend, I managed to draft off Esther Núñez for a few short minutes – I was very proud of myself, as you can imagine! At this point, I also realised that there was no more than half a dozen swimmers ahead of me so decided that I’d better swim properly…
Now, this writing business is becoming a bit tiresome (especially as it’s 1:30 am and I’m switching between tabs keeping an eye on Sylvain Estadieu swimming butterfly across the Channel) so I’m going to continue this post as substantially captioned pictures.
I finished the swim in a time of 1:20:45, which was much faster than expected. My average pace throughout the race was 1:15 per 100 m. I struggle to hit that time in the pool, let alone turn around on it 65 times in a row, so I think that the current may have been taking about 0:10 off every 100 m. I was delighted to see that I actually finished in sixth place, and was only 7:11 behind Damián (who placed first) and 4:18 behind Esther (who placed fourth). Imagine that: only two places behind Esther Núñez! I was feeling very smug indeed entering the finishers’ area. Just after me was Miquel Suñer, who swam without a wetsuit. Only the week before, he swam 30+ km around the entire Cap de Creus peninsula!
Before I got a chance to take off my wetsuit, Esther alerted me to the fact that there was a couple calling me from the beach. The couple was Donal and Edna O’Lochlainn from Fermoy who were in Cadaqués on their holidays… Fermoy people: you just can’t escape them! They even had the Fermoy flag with them for the occasion so Damián and I had our picture taken with it. It was great to meet Donal and Edna at the event and very nice to have some local support. Mauricio and I met them again later that evening for a drink. Damián, Esther and I hung around in the finishers’ area for another while, meeting all of the swimmers that we had met at dinner the night before. The area was very well set up: the swimmers had a nice patch of beach to mill around in, there were chairs, showers and stands with lot’s of soft drinks, water and fruit. On your way out of the finishers’ area, you passed “baggage reclaim” where you picked up your things which had been transported from the start for you. In the plaza, there was also free recovery massages and even an inflatable medical centre! The whole setup was very impressive and great credit is due to the organisers for the effort that they put in. By the time we’d seen the results it was nearly midday and getting very hot, so it was time to cool off in the hotel pool before heading back for the presentation of the prizes at 1:00 pm.
Right after the prizes we had a really nice lunch by the hotel pool. I was advised to try a local dish – a Catalan noodle paella – which I must say was really nice and hit the spot very nicely after the race! After, all that swimming, talking and eating, we were all exhausted so it was time for a siesta by the pool (there’s that pool again).
Before we ate yet again, there was some important business to attend to for the soccer fans and Catalans in the group: Barcelona were playing a match and it was imperative that we watched it. I wouldn’t normally watch soccer but I was getting the full Catalan experience so was looking forward to seeing how the locals followed their biggest sporting institution. To my surprise, everyone gathered in pubs and restaurants, sat and watched quietly. I was sure that there was probably more excitement about the very same match at home! The crowed did get a bit more lively during the next match though, where they relished in seeing Real Madrid fair poorly – I suppose it’s a bit like a Cork supporter sometimes appearing more anti-Kilkenny than pro-Cork in hurling. Anyway, enough about dry-land sports! At 10:00 pm, it was time to eat some more… There was another big crowd for dinner, this time including the race organiser, Miquel Rahola, and his wife, Irene, as well as David Campa and others. The dinner was tapas style and, yet again, the food was top class – as was the company, of course. By now, I was picking up some of the more basic Spanish and Catalan phrases – I promise to be able to speak some for next year! After dinner, it was time for the party…
That wasn’t the end of it, though! After the band stopped, the party continued into the streets of Cadaqués. The group eventually found our way into a tiny nightclub in the village where we stayed until 5:00 am when I was disgusted to have to leave to catch my bus back to Barcelona and fly home! Still, I’d had an absolutely amazing day and a half with brilliant people – a simply surreal experience.
Thanks a million to Mauricio for looking after me from start to finish. Thanks to Damián, Esther, Miquel and all my new swimming friends for their hospitality. Well done to Miquel, Pablo, Irene, David and the rest of the Marnaton team on organisation such a superb event. I can’t wait for next year!
It’s now one year since I started this blog and started reading OWSwimming.com, the blog of Mauricio, Susan and Emily who swam the Strait of Gibraltar this summer. I read with envy as they swam in the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea until late in the autumn. I came to know the swimmers through blogging and before long I was signed up to take part in the third stage of Marnaton 2013. The race that entered was a 6.5 km swim on the Costa Brava called VI Marnaton “eDreams” Cap de Creus – Cadaqués and it took place last Saturday, 14 September. Here’s how I got on…
Eager for one last summer race before heading back to college, I flew from Cork to Barcelona on Friday. On arrival there, I met Mauricio who kindly took my bag and showed me where to wander around in Barcelona for the afternoon. After a stroll around Las Ramblas, Mauricio and I met up again and headed for Cadaqués, which is about 2 hours north of Barcelona by car. When we got to Cadaqués, we took a drive to the start of the swim at Cala Jugadora in the Cap de Creus national park. The whole area is spectacularly beautiful with rocky mountains, lots of greenery and azure blue sea. Having checked out the swim course from the cliffs, we headed back to the village and checked into the hotel. There, we met the most successful couple in open water swimming: Damián Blaum and Esther Núñez. I first met Damián last year while we were both in Dover and crewing for Trent Grimsey on his English Channel world record swim. He is the current FINA Grand Prix Champion. Esther was the GP Champion in 2007 and 2012 and was second this year. They would both be taking part in the race the following day! That evening I had dinner with Mauricio, Damián, Esther, Miquel Suñer and many local swimmers. It was a great evening and I got plenty of exposure to the Spanish and Catalan languages!
The next morning, we had to be up early to travel to the start point. Breakfast at the hotel was at 7:30 am. Most swimmers tried to imitate what Damián and Esther were having for their breakfast but it was difficult to keep up! After breakfast, we travelled to the start by car – we could only go so far by road and had to walk the rest of the way. All of the swimmers got changed in the glen that leads from the road to the cove. All but two of the nearly 600 swimmers got our wetsuits and, like penguins, made our way to the water! I was relieved to jump into the sea as I was getting quite hot standing around in my wetsuit. The water was at least 18ºC, crystal clear and very saline: I’d never felt so warm and so buoyant in the sea! I followed Damián, Esther to the best start position. There, we met Miquel, who was swimming without a wetsuit. Once all of the swimmers were congregated in the start area, the horn blew and we were off!
That’s enough writing for me for today! I’ll put up another post tomorrow about the swim itself and the afters of the event… (Cont’d in Part 2)
Last Saturday, 7 September was the date of this year’s “The Edge Sports” Sandycove Island Challenge, the second biggest event on the Munster open water swimming calendar. The swim has been running for, I think, 18 years and I’ve been taking part each year since 2006 – I admit missing the 2009 event as I was swimming across the English Channel at the time! It’s a fantastic event run by Cork Masters SC and is a great reason to make yourself visit the home of marathon swimming in Munster, Sandycove Island.
Entries were slightly down on last year for a number of reasons, with a total of just under 200 people completing the swim on the day. Dave Mulcahy, Dave Dowling, Ellen Brooks and myself all swam for Fermoy SC. Conditions were near-perfect: it was very overcast and occasionally wet but the water was glassy calm with very good visibility under water. The still flooding tide meant that swimmers would also get some assistance from the current on the one-mile circuit of the island. After registration in Kinsale around lunchtime, we headed to Sandycove to mill around and wait for the race briefing.
Ned gave the usual briefing at the slipway and all of the swimmers assembled into their start groups (of 30 swimmers each). I was seeded #2 so was in the first group. When we were lined up, it became clear to me that #4 or #5 would have been a more accurate seeding for me: in front of me was Dan Sweeney, a former Sunday’s Well SC and Plymouth Leander swimmer now swimming with the elite team at Loughborough, and behind me was Ethan O’Brien of Limerick SC who is making a name for himself as an elite triathlete. I was not competing with these guys, they are way out my league – I was much more focused on Carol Cashell, Ned Denison and maybe one or two others who are my usual competitors!
The start was very clean and non-violent: the 30 swimmers in the first group assembled on the slipway. Carol and I were stood next to each other in the middle while Ned was off to the right, picturing himself beating the real fast guys! The whistle went and we were off before we knew it. I got a nice clean dive and came back to the surface unobstructed by flailing arms. Carol and I were stroke-for-stroke and, as we approached the first corner, we caught Ned at the end of his initial sprint phase. Carol was on my left and Ned was on my right, I was sandwiched between the two of them as we headed for the rocks. I figured that the best thing to do would be to pull back and go around the outside of Ned – this would give me more water to swim in and also psychologically destroy Ned to see me pass him on the outside.
The calm conditions allowed for a tight line around the rocks at the first corner and the very good u/w visibility made it easier to find the deep cracks in the rocks. Carol, who was about 5 m outside me said afterwards that she thought that she was cutting it fine so was surprised to see me well inside her. She was scraping off subsurface rocks, confirming my theory that, at the first corner at Sandycove, it’s best to go as close as you can to the rocks that you can see, thus avoiding those that you can’t see! I started to pull ahead of Carol at this point and started reeling in a guy in a wetsuit who, it would appear, is probably a great 750 m triathlon swimmer but broke down a bit after 800 m. Having passed him on the back of the island, I was satisfied that it was only Dan and Ethan left at the front. I could see them approach the second corner but knew that a mere mortal like myself had no chance of catching them – I just focused on maintaining my current position, keeping a close eye on Carol just behind me…
I went incredibly close to the rock on the second/far corner, relying on the gentle swell to carry me over the shallowest parts – I lost no blood this time! The race after this was quite boring. The two lads were off in front, Carol was about 15 m behind and there was nobody on either side of me. The water was calm and there was no battle to be had. I have become used to ferocious battles at this event over the last few years! At the third corner, I picked my line to the marker buoys near the finish and went for it, readjusting my heading every few stroke cycles. As I reached the first of the large yellow buoys marking the approach to the finish, I saw Ethan and Dan getting onto the slipway. I tried to sprint in but the extra gear just wasn’t there; it didn’t matter though, I held my position and finished third person home in a time of 21:44.0 – a new PB, I’m pretty sure.
As Carol finished about 20 s after me, she informed everyone that the water temperature was 14.6ºC. Cooler than previous years, despite being about a fortnight earlier, but it made no difference as I didn’t think about the temperature for a second from start to finish. I enjoyed watching all of the others come in, especially the Fermoy SC swimmers. Dave (Mulcahy) did a very impressive swim: he got a new PB of 29:06 – his first sub-30-minute lap of the island! I spotted one swimmer just after the finish though and thought: “he looks fast, and familiar too…” It turns out that the swimmer, seeded #221, was Aaron O’Brien of Limerick SC who is today competing for Ireland in the Junior World Championships in triathlon!
There was great post-race banter back in Kinsale afterwards while we waited for the prizes. The best local result had to be Carol’s win in the female non-wetsuit category, she was flying only a week after her pioneering swim around Bere Island. Despite being third home, I had to settle for fourth place as, as was to be expected, Aaron had a faster swim than me by 7.7 seconds – I’m pretty pleased with 7.7 seconds behind a national squad triathlete over 1.6 km! It was a great event and credit is due to all involved in organising it. Sorry for the lack of photographs, I haven’t seen any myself…
I’m back in the pool now (sort of) but have a few more open water events left before returning to the real world of college and training. Tomorrow, I’m off to Catalonia to bask in the sun and reflected glory of swimming with FINA Grand Prix Champion 2013 and therefore World #1, Damián Blaum (ARG) and his wife, Esther Núñez Morera, who also just happens to be World #2! The event in which I’ll be swimming is the 6.5 km race from Cap de Creus to the village of Cadaqués in the picturesque North of the country. It is part of the Copa Marnaton “eDreams” and I’ll be there thanks to my friends Mauricio Prieto and Susan Moody who swam the Strait of Gibraltar this summer and keep a great open water blog, OWSwimming.com. I can’t wait for the race!
- Sandycove Island Challenge 2013 – Results by Swim Time (CorkMasters.ie)