Myrtleville is fast becoming one of the most popular swim locations for open water sea swimmers, triathletes and casual swimmers in Ireland. It’s easy to see why, with a fantastic array of swims for all levels which can be completed safely in a beautiful location. Safely, is the key word. On this point, here are a few important observations and some feedback from very experienced seamen like Cpt Tom McCarthy, who regularly swims in Myrtleville:
On a swim to the Dutchman Rocks and back, it is much safer to swim in a direct line from the beach to the rock (parallel to shore) or towards Fennell’s Bay and on to the rock (weather permitting), than swimming out to sea and then heading back in to the rock.
Two main reasons.
1. Out past the line of the Rock, pleasure craft and smaller commercial vessels regularly use this space and you probably will not be visible to them. They will not expect to encounter swimmers that far out and may not be watching. There is no good reason for swimmers to be 300mts to 500mts offshore in Myrtleville.
2. The likelihood of not being able to deal with the unexpected – i.e. currents which can be strong, cramp, cold – is much more likely at these distances offshore.
Last week the skipper of a small local trawler had a near miss with two swimmers approx 350 mts offshore in Myrtleville. He did not see them until very late and was lucky to do so. He got an unpleasant fright, but it could have been a very serious accident.
Tom McCarthy observes: “I would say that getting hit by a boat is the greatest danger that an open water swimmer can face. We have heard many stories in recent days of near misses. One of the primary rules of the sea is to maintain a proper lookout by both sight and sound. Alas, all too often a proper lookout is not maintained. Added to this is the poor “target” that a swimmer gives to others, with only part of the head and arms showing. This then can also be hidden by even a small wave. High visibility swim cap and especially towing an inflatable buoy give a far better chance of being sighted. Worn properly, these will not interfere with your swimming in any way. It is also a duty of the swimmer to be aware of the other activity going on around and wearing ear plugs will diminish your ability to hear an oncoming boat. Keep a good lookout yourself.”
With suitable weather conditions, Myrtleville provides great swimming options, ranging from a paddle to 8km swims. Just remember that you are sharing the open water with a variety of boats and they may not be watching for you – especially if you are too far offshore and outside the line between the Dutchman and Bunny Connellan.
Know your limits – stay safe, swim safe.
Cpt. Tom McCarthy