2004 proved an exciting year down at Sandycove. We established a group target of 1,000 laps for the year – and surpassed it by July! In September, fourteen swimmers declared for the English Channel (2 solos and 12 relays – for over and back) and I could feel the fear and intensity down at the slipway. Dermot O’Reilly and Ned Denison were locked in a battle to log the most laps as the holiday season approached.
We awoke on Christmas Day in Cork to snow on the ground for the first time in twenty years. I would have expected a phone call to be a family greeting/best wishes but it was Ned itching for a swim. The excuses of Christmas Day and snow on the ground were not stopping him, so I agreed. I had been watching these channel aspirants closely and I was slowly catching the bug – and maybe this was the tipping point.
So we met, all alone at the slipway. Standing in the snow which I still feel was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We completed our lap like two kids giggling over a present on the day. The Sandycove 14 completed their channel swims plus Imelda, Ned and Diarmuid who completed amazing Solo Swims. As for the bug, I signed up, lost the wetsuit and soloed the channel in 2006.