Day 1 and 2 – Blackrock and Seapoint
We went for a swim in Blackrock, swimming to Seapoint and back. It was nice, grand, enjoyable, another swim… but I thought no more of it. Blackrock has become more used of late by swimmers as it is less crowded than Seapoint. During the week I went for a swim in Seapoint (it was busy, too busy and the Gardai – I don’t envy them at the moment – were asking people to move on after their swims and indeed asking for addresses too – the 5km rule was in at the time). I was talking to Ceall after. We had swum to the fifth buoy and back. Ceall’s a good swimmer and loves the sport – and a challenge, or perhaps moreso a target. We got talking and he told me about his dream to swim around Ireland. I quickly said I wasn’t interested – I mean, Jaysus, around Ireland – but having said that I was kind of intrigued. He was thinking this might be a good time to start, what with all the restrictions and lack of things to do. “Ya bastard” I said, “you’ve got me thinking now”, I think were my exact words. So, I thought about it afterwards, why not at least do Blackrock to Bray?
There are no Leinster Open Sea (LOS) races until August and then only three – maybe, so there would be more time this summer. Why not swim a few new spots and give it a go… and so I had started on a journey. It’s been great and the following blog episodes will give you some insights into the swims, the logistics, the fun, the misery (not much of that) and the sights and achievements along the way. The jogging stopped and the swimming restarted…woohooh.
Day 3 – Windsurfers to Dun Laoghaire East Pier
So we start at Windsurfers, there is a mini heatwave and it’s a beautiful evening. We swam out to the 5th buoy (water near there was worryingly warm and a bit dank) and from there towards the Dun Laoghaire Harbour wall. One of the benefits of doing this thing now is that, because of Covid, there is little or no boat traffic, so it’s a lot safer. There may have been two boats out at most and a stand-up paddle boarder (SUPer). We had bright orange tow-floats to help ensure we will be seen. I hadn’t used one before and a had a loan of one for the first couple of legs before buying one, having committed to this lark. Given that we had to walk back to Windsurfers from the end of the pier, we had brought our shoes/sandals in the floats (very handy). It was a lovely swim. Towards the harbour wall we had to make sure the fishermen saw us – being hit by a lead weight is not the way I plan on leaving this fine life. We got a few curious looks as we swam past, but hey, it is the sea after all. It was fab swimming into the mouth of the harbour and seeing the two lighthouses, especially the red lighthouse on the east pier up close. (I can never remember which is which and always thought they should be called the North and South Piers). We swam to the steps around the corner of the West Pier wall. Ceall knew there were steps there from many years ago when his dog went into the water there. We walked back in the wetsuit / teeshirt combo and the squelchy shoes and so a routine had begun.
Day 4 – Dun Laoghaire to Forty Foot
I cycled to Dun Laoghaire and Ceall parked at The National Yacht Club. I had assumed we’d go out the East Pier and swim across to mouth and start again, but Ceall is a stickler – you must start exactly where you finish – there was no point contesting it. We did the longer walk to the West Pier, out to the end, donned the hat and goggles, put the shoes away, inflated the tow floats, down the steps and into the water. A few bemused onlookers asked us what we were up to. Conditions were good, but were expected to change later in the evening. Out we went, seeing Dun Laoghaire from a vantage point seen by relatively few people. We’ve both done the Dun Laoghaire Harbour race on numerous occasions, but that’s a race, whereas this a swim with stops and starts to take in the sights and sounds that greet us.
We swam to the end of the wall and then it was into Scotsman’s Bay. I swam across the bay in a race before but it has since been discontinued alas. At one stage we didn’t seem to be making much progress so Ceall took the lead for a while and then vice versa so that we could draft off each other and up the pace a bit. I seem to recall a seagull flying very close overhead at one stage. We aimed for the red roofed house in Sandycove and then veered left to go around to the Forty Foot. A few years back I came down here for an afternoon swim off-season. It was quiet but when I came out I had the place completely to myself. The sense of owning the place for that bit of time was magic – naturally it didn’t last long – perhaps 30-40 seconds, but very few people have ever had the place to themselves such is its popularity and ‘wonderfulness’. Amazingly, Ceall had never swum here before. As we arrived, the place was busy with gangs of teenagers jumping off the rocks and others swimming and lolling about – all generally enjoying themseles. We shook hands as we got out as would become the customary end to each leg. As we walked back along the waterfront, the wind was getting up, the temperature was dropping and the chop rising. The forecast was right. All good.
The next part of the blog will be posted within a couple of days.
More infomation if interested on Dun Laoghaire is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%BAn_Laoghaire
Swims 1, 2, 3 and 4 are below. The swims would become longer and longer as we went on…