Cork Distance Week

It is the toughest amateur marathon swim training in the world – with the fewest “frills”.   By invitation only…

World Open Water Swimming Association nomination for the “Offering of the Year” in 2012 read: “Torture. Confusion. Stress. A tiny part of the world – Sandycove Island in Ireland – has become a must-do and must-see in the channel swimming world. Sandycove plays host to the Cork Distance Week, the absolutely most brutal, the most unforgiving, the downright dastardly difficult open water swimming camp in the world…

For a longer review – please see this Outside magazine article.

History The first completion of nearly 50 marathon swimmers in Ireland took place in May 2008, at Sandycove Island, for the Irish Champions of Champions (5 miles, rest, 3 miles, rest, 1 mile then collapse!). The water was 11C and a strong East wind (and the associated waves) howled into the faces of the swimmers along the back of the Island. Veterans of several thousand swims around Sandycove Island described it as one of the worst five days when a single lap was completed – and this was 9 laps! Four completed in Speedos and 8 in wetsuits – with many swimmers talking away some “unfinished business”.

Distance Week 2009

Cork Distance Week 2009

This led to the two week long Cork Swim Camp in 2009 (see picture): 12 days of 6-8am and 6-8pm, then a Champion of Champions and then the English Channel 6 hour qualifier. Kevin Murphy (34 English Channel crossings and a 2008 finisher) returned for the final two days along with Freda Streeter (the Channel General – who has trained hundreds of channel swimmers). Two inductees into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame – to make it even more serious! This time 22 completed the Champion of Champions in Speedos and 7 in wetsuits. Nine local swimmers returned to settle the score from 2008 (four who finished in wetsuits and five who didn’t finish). All nine “did the business” in 2009 and went on to solo the English Channel – with one doing a two-way.

Day 14 bought back that 11C water. Sixteen year old Nick Caine later wrote: “The English Channel was tough but not nearly as tough as the 6 hours in Cork.”

Fast forward to 2014 and the format is now set: 7 days (am and pm), day 8 is the TBBC and day 9 is the English Channel qualifier. Why does the Cork Distance Week run for 9 days?  Simple – you just never know how long your marathon swim will take.

Instructors, Coaches and Torturers The main organizer is Ned Denison (a 2012 inductee into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and 2013 recipient of the Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award from the International Swimming Hall of Fame).

Ned swims on days 1 to 7 and is joined by many of the 19 English Channel soloists from Sandycove Island (the most successful location in the world since 2005 bar Dover Harbour and London). They then enlist as torturers on the TBBC swim and switch completely to the most helpful and encouraging mentors for the 6 hour swim.

Videos of Previous Distance Weeks

Massive thanks to Vanessa Daws for these SUPER videos 🙂

Distance Week 2013

Distance Week 2012

The Lee Swim 2013

For more information about the 2014 Cork Distance Week, click here or email: