I started adult swimming lessons in my local leisure centre purely so I could take part in Crosshaven triathlon the following year. The triathlon swim would be 500m and I could barely swim two lengths of the pool without needing major recovery. It seemed a huge task but I was encouraged by how fast I progressed. Once you master the breathing it’s pretty easy from there on.
I began looking forward to going to the pool and enjoyed lane swimming. I signed up for the Lee Swim Committee to keep me focused. I contacted Ossi Schmidt of the Lee Swim and he directed me to Myrtleville swimmers. He encouraged me to get in touch with a group of swimmers who were very welcoming, in particular Aisling Barry, Anne Sheehy and Denis Condon. I bought a wetsuit and, with their encouragement, have never looked back.
Sea swimming might be a solo sport but there is a huge social element after each swim, especially race swims. Open water swimming attracts not only triathletes but people from all walks of life, ages and swimming ability. Most swimming with wetsuits and the other die hards in togs.
My first swim was Gadd About Garnish 3km. I had never swum that distance before but with the encouragement of other swimmers, the pre-swim buzz and pier pep talks, I was soon in the zone for the swim. It was an ideal first swim, on a perfect, sunny day. The swim was bliss, catching glimpses of Garnish in full bloom and spying the odd jellyfish below me.
The Myrtleville to Church Bay 2km race was to be my next swim. The calm waters of Garnish did not prepare me for this swim. I found it tough but once I finished I was so thrilled I completely forgot the struggle. I never in a million years thought I would be able to swim these distances.
The ‘Vibes & Scribes’ Lee Swim 2014 came next and I was so excited, I had no nerves at all. It was great to be a part of something so huge in Cork. The water felt clean and I enjoyed spotting family and friends waving from the bridges. At this point I was used to being ‘overtaken’ during swims and on this occasion I was even beaten by someone doing the breast stroke. The power of people’s stroke amazes me and I have clearly a lot to learn about swimming.
Since the Lee Swim, I have discovered the beautiful Sandycove Island. It feels so safe and secluded there, drawing big crowds for local swims. I am always on the look out for a new stretch of water to swim. I recently swam from Union Hall to Glandore, took part in the Courtmacsherry Lifeboat Swim and have signed up for a fjord swim in Killary this October.
Then the future goals:
- Lots of ‘diehard’ swimmers will take to the seas all winter – I will try it.
- Swim in togs next summer.
- Summer 2015 > Thomond, Liffey and the 5k in Garnish.
- As with everyone > improve my speed.
As for the triathlon……I haven’t seen my runners all summer; they have been replaced by the humble flip flop!