A bit of an interesting morning yesterday. Walking down the beach I heard a greeting from behind me – “Good morning, Bernard”. Surprised – as I hadn’t noticed his car and didn’t think Bernard was around – I glanced back and realised the salutation was aimed at me.
I was glassesless (functionally blind), so I had a good squint and realised that it was the Swimmy Swami himself who was addressing me. “Not Bernard, Marcus”, I replied. He seemed unfazed. A further squint allowed me to identify that the equally unperturbed person standing beside him was, in fact, Bernard’s sister, AnneMarie. I mentioned that I thought she might have recognised that I wasn’t her brother but she just said something about interchangeability and wasn’t a bit concerned. “Feckin hell”, I thought, and off I went.
Having given this some consideration, I think the best approach is for me to offer a pictorial guide to avoid any confusion in future. Let’s be very clear – there’s only one Bernard. I’m Notbernard. Sorry, not Bernard. No.
So, here we go…. First: Bernard:
Now, I hope that’s helpful and we won’t have any more cases of mistaken identity or imputed interchangeability. OK, Marcus? AnneMarie?
Some wonderful news from d’Island down West was sent on at the weekend by one of our anonymous tipsters, called Liam Maher. It seems that a group of the elders of the tribe have taken on a new challenge for later life and have formed a synchronised swimming group called the 200Plussers. I admit that I was initally nonplussed by the 200Plus, but on investigation was left awash with admiration for our intrepid synchros.
Drawing motivation from the 2018 film, Swimming with Men, the inspirational quartet have reached the end of their collective tethers going around in ovals with goats bleating at them. They will henceforth devote their acknowledged and considerable water skills to performances – or making an exhibition of themselves, you might say.
In case you haven’t guessed, the 200Plussers name is derived from the combined age of the quartet. While they have the young fella Hedderman to bring the overall average down, Ned has plenty of years to share around on his side, so 200Plussers it is. They did consider going with a name from their initials but felt that “The FRANnies” didn’t really capture what they’re about. Affirmative Age Action and all that.
With their custom-made, individually monikored headgear you can just see the branding opportunities. All the fans are sure to have their own favourite and want to collect his branded hat. High times ahead in Sandycove. While some might snort and guffaw (Liam Maher, again – don’t get me started), I just can’t wait for 2022 when the 200Plussers begin a string of performance dates around the back of the Island. I’ll be in the front row, with popcorn. Go, Plussers!!!
There have been some great swims by Myrtlevillians in the last few weeks. At the heart of their achievements is the guidance of a Guru. To swim greatly, great efforts are required. Efforts of the mind, as well as the body. Hard work alone will not achieve the zen-like calm all great swimmers evince. For that you need a guide. You need a guide who can lead you to the path of watery enlightenment. You need a guru, who can instruct you in the ways of the sea (even if he learned to swim in a lake) and fan the flames of Oceanic devotion. In short (actually, no – I’ve barely started) you need a Swimmy Swami to direct you to greatness and open the doors of perception. You need Maharishi Marcus.
As Myrtlevillians have achieved greatness this Summer, all have given thanks for the guidance of the wise one. Ever-present at dawn swims, moving from darkness to light as the sun rises on the world, the Swami is there. No fear, he counsels. No fear.
His guidance is truly international. As Nora Irwin prepared for her Cadaques marathon swim, the Maharishi was by her side through six million millimetres, offering her the key to enlightened success (“It’s French water so you’ll have to speak French to it – un, deux, trois, respirer, un, deux, trois, respire – encore!”). Guru Marcus knew this as he has mastered the art of LISTENING to nature. You need big ears to hear so much.
Truly, as Frank, Paul and Rebeca said after gracing d’Island down West with their inspired presence, it is with thanks to Marcus that their achievements were made possible. His connection to nature is supreme. Nothing comes between the wise one and the water. Nothing.
The path to enlightenment is open to all. Join him at dawn. Togs optional.
Congratulations to the Minkies, who completed their North Channel relay on Friday, July 2nd. Start point was Donaghadee (about 15k south of Bangor). It was a four-person team – Marie Watson, Brenda Sisk, Ann Smyth and Fiona Coleman. Ann finished the swim in Scotland after 19 hours 33 mins.
Darren Morrissey was on the boat with them and gave us this short summary of a huge achievement:
I was on the boat with the girls for their NC swim on Friday. They played an absolute blinder. Unbelievable from the four of them. They did themselves proud. They only wore Myrtleville hats all day. They had about 24 hours notice to get to Bangor for the swim start. No accommodation booked and everything to do. Pre-swim fuel was wine and chips 😂. They were all immense. They found the strength to finish a grueling day with a smile on their faces and broke into Scotland.
A fantastic achievement! Well done to all involved. By the way, it’s unclear if Ann cursed on reaching Scotland (one of the “Thank F@#K for that” variety), but I’d bet she did.
June 23rd, 6.30pm: Eilis Burns will be bringing a group of new open water swimmers to Myrtleville on Wednesday, June 23rd at 18:30.
Any of the regular Myrtleville swimmers who can be around that evening to give any help would be appreciated. We need strong swimmers used to the sea to join the group for the swim and watch out for anyone who needs some support. Also, any kayakers or SUPs available would be very welcome.
Please come down if you can. Remember what your own first swim was like and help out.
Some swimmers incorrectly believe that no boats can access Myrtleville Bay or the area in or around the yellow marker buoys. It is correct that Jet Skis are prohibited from the buoyed area. Boats are most definitely NOT prohibited.
Boats are “advised to keep a safe distance from the buoys and swimmers, to navigate with extreme caution and minimise wash in this area”. Mariners are expected to use extreme caution but us swimmers must also be very careful and take responsibility for our own safety, especially on sunny days with a lot of marine traffic and some – to put it nicely – less experienced boat users.
On a more regular basis, whether sunny or not, you’ll quite likely see working boats around the bay. Anyone who has done much swimming in Myrtleville must have met – as in, swam into 🙂 – some small marker buoys for lobster pots in various places. These buoys should mean one thing to swimmers – a boat was used to put them in and a boat will come back to take them out: like they’ve done for decades. Those working boats will be in and out regularly. They are perfectly entitled to be there. They watch out for swimmers in the water and we also have to watch out for them.
It’s not often I take the side of d’Islanders down West, but when you’re right, you’re right. Ned’s right. A race around Cork City? No way that old guy could win. They told him that too. Repeatedly.
In the presence of a witness (hi, Eleanor!) before the swim, I told that “useless trio” (TM – Coach Eilis) of Lynch, Maher and Shalloo that if they lost to the “geriatic yank” (TM – Coach Eilis) not to bother coming back to the beach.
They lost. Big time. He gave them odds. They still lost.
No wonder Ned felt emboldened to swoop down from on high and challenge all comers in Myrtleville. How’s this for a swooping geriatric….
Ned – you da man. The Goliath of Cork.
Note, to really understand his inspiration, you might watch this. Hint – Ned is Achilles and 2.50 in is the key bit. I wonder, does that make Dave Merriman the king?
As everyone who knows her is aware, Coach Eilis is a shy, retiring person not given to public expressions of opinion. It takes a lot for her to feel she needs to comment on a situation or event in swimming and then only in the calmest, most supportive and encouraging way. I was therefore surprised to receive a phone call from the Coach, the content of which I have tried to capture below. It is – believe me – almost verbatim. I just took out the bad stuff she said about the three bandidos. This is a family site, after all.
Me: Hello, Eilis?
Coach Eilis: Damian, listen to me, did you hear about that round-Cork swim last night?
Me: Well, I….
Coach Eilis: What the hell is going on with that Myrtleville crowd? Jim and Bernard and Liam?? Myrtlevillians? Myrtlewasters more like it. Ned? Ned, like? They let that geriatric feckin’ Yank win?
Me: Ah, well….
Coach Eilis: The excuses? He swam under the wall out of the current and they wouldn’t? Why not? Afraid of a bit of sewage and a few dead animals and shopping trolleys? WIMPS! They’re a disgrace. They must have known he’d swim through shite backwards to get ahead – but he’s ancient, sure, half the man he used to be – and he still beat them!
Me: Yes, ah…
Coach Eilis: Get the word out – they’re nothing to do with me. They obviously forgot everything I taught them before Covid arrived. Useless. When they come crawling back, I’ll have them doing drills with the beginners. At the back of the lane too. Useless.
Me: Oh, ah, right…
Coach Eilis: At least Rosie did a great swim – no cheating or messing. Fantastic swimmer.
Me: Yes, she…
Coach Eilis: But that other three!!! Useless!! What a shower – beaten by a half-dead ould fella. A disgrace!! Nothing to do with me. Nothing. He even gave them a head start!
Me: He wha..?
Coach Eilis: Yeah, Ned left them head off into the sunset and stood there to give them odds then beat them anyway. USELESS!! I’ll have the three of them lying on the pool deck up here to bend and twist them like morla and everyone laughing at them.
The call continued in this vein for a while longer. It was unprintable. Lads, I wouldn’t be heading towards Silver Springs any time soon if I were ye. She’s waiting.
If you ever wondered where the phrase originated to describe a strapping, fit man I reckon the photo below is the perfect example of it. We all miss Tom Bermingham on the beach, but many of us only met him in his sixties and seventies and didn’t know him as a younger man. This great picture is of Tom exiting the water at the first Crosshaven Triathlon in 1984, in his forties. Seriously – look at the muscles on him! Could you imagine facing him on a hurling pitch?? A horse of a man, if ever there was one. He’s sadly missed but always remembered.
As an extra bonus, the young man beaming beside him and proudly carrying his shoes is our regular swimmer, Brian Twomey. Before the buoys, if the weather was bad you’d be lucky “to get as far as Brian Twomey’s house”. Now you’d probably say “buoy 2”. 🙂
A fantastic picture and one well worth sharing. Thanks, Brian.