Myrtleville Marathon – Bernard’s version

Having pulled up last September around half way through my attempted swim from Sandycove to Myrtleville, a decision had to be made – was that it, or as Cpt Tom McCarthy advised “I’d lived to fight another day”. Damian had completed the swim in his wetsuit and was enthusiastic about the Marathon in his togs for 2013. Feeling a bit down after my attempt, Damian said with a grin “the only way to fix it is to do it again”.  He had a plan and before I had realised it, I’d agreed to four open water swims every week, in addition to pool sessions at Source. Damian means what he agrees (hope you’re never 1 min late for a swim with him 🙂 ). I also went back to my friend and best coach in Ireland, Eilis, for some swim stroke lessons ( “slide and glide!!!”), which helped a lot.

Damian and I did the training, not missing any week in the sea since last September. I clocked up over 600km on my log from January to the swim date, including  2,3,4,5 and 6 hour sessions in the sea.  I also got a handle on the feeding plans (thanks Carol). The date was set for 20th -24th August with our support and safety crew of Tom McCarthy, Billy Kelleher, Frank Lynch and Tom Lynch. Thanks guys, for all your help and giving us the chance to attempt this.

We watched the weather closely with Tom McCarthy and on the eve of the 22nd, all weather reports said good – but Tom wanted to see for himself. He brought me on a trek out to Roberts Head, where one can see the whole length of the swim and actually get down to sea level. East of the Head was flat, but West on to Kinsale was white horses and lumpy (a good lesson).  We had a green light for the 26th and I tried to keep the whole thing low key ( in case I got pulled out again :-))

Damian started at 13:20 hrs in Sandycove and as I watched him swim away, I wished I was in the water too. It was certainly a mood of “just get the job over and done with”. I had 30 mins to waste and to my surprise two open water legends and friends came down to see us off. Rob Bohane and Finbar Hedderman’s humour soon had me laughing and feeling much better as they enquired “was I lost?” and “sure its only a 7.5 hr swim home”. Many Thanks, Guys.

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Rob Bohane, Bernard Lynch and Finbarr Hedderman.

I started the swim at 13.55, anti-clockwise around Sandycove and across Kinsale Harbour into a tide. In hindsight, maybe an hour later would have been better.  Around Frower Point and towards the Sovereign islands and all going well – I felt relaxed, warm and very confident I would complete the swim. However, I was working too hard at that point.  I passed Damian at the Sovereigns and he seemed to be swimming well. I wondered how I had caught up so quickly, to later find out he had gone off too far South and added a distance to his swim.  It took ages to pass the big Sovereign with tides and eddies from Oysterhaven etc.

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Frank Lynch at the Astrid off Oysterhaven.

From here across Newfoundland Bay and onto Barry’s Head and all going well. Swimming across Reanies Bay, half way into the swim, the cold started to kick in. Tom and Frank were doing a great job with feeds from the boat, but I noticed they kept pointing me to swim in closer to the land. I made the same mistake as last year and decided my swim line by sight, rather than by the boat. At one point, I was about 2km offshore – which lengthened the swim.

Open water, sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Frank & Tom Lynch – fantastic support: should have followed their directions!

At Reanies Point the cold really started to kick in and I told Tom and Frank I was thinking of stopping. I said the feed was s**t and just took a small sip which turned out to be the one with Ibuprofen in it. I needed to drink that one! I said I would swim on to Roberts Cove and that would be it. I was asking myself “What’s it all about? ” and was frozen. In my mind, I said at least Sandycove to Roberts Cove would be a respectable swim. I swam on, not enjoying one moment, as Tom and Frank put extra hot water in my feeds – which really helped.

At Roberts Cove, my boat went back to Damian’s boat, who sent back a message about not wanting to hear any crap of finishing at Roberts Cove. Ned had me visualise this feeling in the pool, as I chased him up and down on a set of 100 x 100 x 100 ( I skipped one or two laps 🙂 )  As arranged, our good friend and swim partner and Open Water champ, Carol, came out to swim in from Roberts Cove. I could hardly say “Sorry about that Carol, but I’m jacking-in” after all the trouble she went to. “Come on”, she said, “It’s only 5k ,90 mins left”. My mind switched and I thought “sure you would have that done before work in the morning” and off we went. I was going ok for another 3.5k.

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Bernard in action as the light fades. Moving well past Robert’s Cove.

With 1,500m to go, I was finding it hard to get my landing bearings in a place I know so well, as this is our training ground.

Open water swimming in Cork, Ireland

Bernard – Cruise Ship – Moon – hard to make out, but they’re all there!

My stroke rate slowed from a constant 60 pm to 45pm and I was finding it hard to focus on the job in hand.  I knew things were not going well when I could see Carol was keeping up with me doing Doggie paddle and breaststroke!!

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Bernard heading in past Fountainstown with Carol.

I landed on the beach in 7 hours 47 min, to be met by Ann and Abby and a crowd of well-wishers and friends.

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Crowd waiting at Myrtleville.

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Abby Lynch, waiting for Dad to come home.

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Bernard makes land – with Carol Cashell and Tom Lynch

To be honest, I do not remember much at all of this or my journey home. I wished I could have stayed to cheer Damian home, but this was not possible. After showering for about 40 minutes and donning 3 layers in front of a fire, I came back to life and had a bottle of beer to celebrate. Went to bed and had zero sleep and loads of sweats which Damian told me he suffered also.  Writing this today, I am starting to feel somewhat normal again.

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

I do look a bit tired……

This swim was originally a dream about swimming between two great swim areas in Ireland – Sandycove and Myrtleville.  Or, as some would say “escaping from Sandycove” 🙂   It was a great experience and looking back each and every pain was worth it; completed with a great friend and a horse of a man. 9hrs 7 min in 14c water is no mean feat. Two years ago, Damian did his longest and first open water swim with me – to the Dutchman.  Another 50 laps and he gets a special Centra hat!

The most enjoyable part of it all has been the whole experience. From nothing, we now have over 200 swimmers regularly on the beach in Myrtleville. The early morning swims, the feel-good factor after each swim; the advice and slagging from great marathon swimmers who now regularly swim in Myrtleville and others with years of open water experience behind them. Our early morning friends, Tom Birmingham, Pat Higgins, Brian O’Connor and Peter Rooney.  James Slowey who swam with us in all weather; Jimmy Long who looks out for us all from his home by the beach and all my own family who support me, but at times wonder 🙂

Open Water Sea Swimming in Cork, Ireland

James Slowey – when I say swims in all weather, I mean it…. Myrtleville Ice Beach 22 January, 2013

Who knows where to from here…

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Bernard, Ann and Abby Lynch.

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Myrtleville Marathon – Damian’s version

I made a decision last September to try swimming in togs rather than a wetsuit.  Bernard Lynch was planning to swim 24km from Sandycove to Myrtleville and I said I’d work to go with him.  Learning to swim without the aid of the wetsuit led to a frustrating Winter.  Following Craig Morrison’s advice (summary: swim in cold water – a lot) I plodded along and Bernard swam loops around me.  Fortunately for me, I seem to have a reasonable cold tolerance.  Swimming in Myrtleville four or five times a week all Winter reinforced it.  On the downside, it also reinforced the now commonly-held view that the Lynch fella and the tall guy with him are mental.  Ask anyone in Crosshaven.

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Race you to the ship – not a lot of people swimming in Myrtleville on days like this.

We picked our week to avail of spring tides – August 20-24.  The weather didn’t co-operate so we went for Monday, August 26.  The tides weren’t ideal but the weather was pretty good.  Fantastic crew again – Tom and Frank Lynch in Bernard’s RIB, Tom McCarthy and Billy Kelleher looking after me.   Then Carol Cashell offered to swim out from Robert’s Cove at about 6km from the end and do some swim support for the final leg.   All we had to do was swim – safety and support was sorted.  We loaded the boats in Kinsale and I made the mistake of putting sun cream on my forehead, so my hat kept slipping off for the whole swim.  Just not thinking.

Open water, sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Loading in Kinsale – Billy, Damian, Bernard, Frank and Tom Lynch.

We drove to Sandycove and I set off at about 1.20 – 2 hours and 40 minutes before the low tide.  Bernard was following 30 minutes later. We thought that was a good plan.  Unfortunately, the tides against us were much stronger than we expected and the first three hours were slow, slow, slow – even by my standards.

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Damian past Frower Point on the way to the Sovereigns – too far out!

Bernard blew past me after about 90 minutes, looking smooth. Tom McCarthy estimates I covered only 6.5km in three hours.  That lost me an hour on what I expected and meant I would be swimming in the dark at the end. Still, I got to see the Sovereigns again and the water was calm.

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Passing the Little Sovereign.

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Green light visible on the goggle strap: needed that later!

From there on, we got a bit of tidal benefit and I started to move along.  From the Sovereigns onwards, I held a really straight line, so was in a position to watch Bernard disappear into the far distance to my right, miles from land.  No idea what he was doing out there, but he certainly wasn’t making it easy for himself.  Tom and Billy went in for a look at the Astrid and as funny things go, met Tom’s brother, Frank McCarthy, also having a look at it.  Small world out there on the water!

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Billy Kelleher at the Astrid

At each feed, Tom or Billy did some fishing and I got to see the benefit of the Contigo bottle advised by Carol Cashell.  It was fantastic – highly recommended.

Open water, sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Feeding time with the famous Contigo AKA Carol’s Bottle

Preparing for the swim, I’d had a back-up plan to stop at Robert’s Cove and do an 18km swim, rather than risk not finishing at all if I went past Robert’s Head and committed to the last section to Myrtleville. That was a reasonable goal for someone in their first year in togs, I thought. I did mention that plan to Ned Denison, who helpfully advised that he didn’t want to hear any of that crap.  So, when Tom left me know that Bernard was cold and talking about going in to Robert’s Cove, I asked him to pass on some gentle words of encouragement along the lines of Ned’s to me, only far less printable.

Bernard and myself had eleven months of thinking or talking about little else than this swim.  The only expletive-free part of my message was that I wasn’t doing another year like that again.  I might go short, but Bernard wasn’t allowed – that was not in the plan.  To be fair, I had helpfully guaranteed him the water would be 16.5c or more, according to the buoy reports. It reached 15c for about 20 minutes, but mostly it was 14.2c or so for the whole thing. That’s not really very warm.

At the last feed before Robert’s Cove, Tom asked me if I’d stop or continue.  He told me Bernard had gone on, with Carol swimming out to meet him.  I felt good.  Not too cold, not too tired, comfortably uncomfortable – just right.  The water was fairly calm, wind seemed ok. I was sick to death of the feeds – Maxim carbs, High5 gels with and without caffeine and SIS electrolytes –  but I knew I could make two more hours, so I said I’d continue, as I reckoned it would take less than that.

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Ahhh feckit, not another gel….

Thirty minutes later I was cursing.  The wind went to the NE, straight into my face, making sighting more difficult and slowing the pace down dramatically.  No choice, though – if I stopped I had no valid swim, so I had to keep going.  The big problem was the dark – I don’t see well at night with my prescription goggles.  I headed for the lights I could see, but they weren’t on the right line that my boat was showing.  Tom and Billy told me they thought I was in trouble and getting hypothermic as they couldn’t understand why I kept asking which way to go, but they relaxed when I was clearly lucid – just blind.

Bernard had finished and Carol came back out in the RIB to swim the last bit with me.  She told me there was about thirty minutes left and off we went.  I swam like a champion – she swam a doggy paddle or “old lady with her head out of the water” breaststroke, so I could see the light on the back of her hat.  She was still faster than me. Depressing.  About ten minutes later, I stopped again for a clear look and to confirm I didn’t want another feed as we were close to the end.  Carol said “about twenty or thirty minutes left”…I couldn’t let that go.  “You said thirty minutes the last time”, I complained.  “Well, if you swam faster, you’d get there faster.  Now, go.” was the reply I got.  Carol is MEAN in the water.

No problems with lights at that stage – spotlights on the RIBs, two sets of car headlights shining out from the beach and lots of torches.  The water was flat calm once I went under Bunny’s and I could enjoy the last few minutes.  Nine hours and six minutes from the start, I stood up.  An hour more than planned.  Delighted to see lots of swimmers and locals on the beach and Siobhan Russell, as ever, captured the scenes.  Thanks to everyone – including my wardrobe assistant, Ger!

I’m getting lots of questions about what’s next and I definitely think next year I’ll aim to swim the channel – the one from Glenbrook to Carrigaloe in front of my house.  Then I’ll walk up the road to Peg’s pub for a pint with my family.  At least that way Anita, Calum and Abby can enjoy one of my swims, rather than just having to listen to me going on about it 🙂

Bernard’s version is here.

Open water, sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Finished – with Carol Cashell and Tom Lynch

Open water, sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Large Panda on Myrtleville beach gets congratulations from Jimmy Long

Open water, sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Ger Venner – ace post-swim dresser!

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

With Carol Cashell – all smiles once the swim is done….still MEAN.

Sandycove to Myrtleville swim

Yesterday, August 26, Bernard Lynch became the first person to swim from Sandycove to Myrtleville in togs. A while later, yours truly became the second. Thanks are due to Tom and Frank Lynch , Tom McCarthy and Billy Kelleher on the boats and Carol Cashell for vital support in the water. Also thanks to the many people who waited on the beach – a LONG time. We will do a proper post in the next few days. Too tired now. That was hard 🙂

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Bernard makes land – with Carol Cashell and Tom Lynch.

Open water, sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Damian finished – with Carol Cashell and Tom Lynch.

Practice swim for Crosshaven Triathlon

For new triathletes, the swim is often the most daunting part of the event.  We will be facilitating a practice swim on the Crosshaven Triathlon course for any 2013 participants who want to get some reassurance they are ready.

The practice swim will take place on Saturday, August 31st at 1.00pm.  Any interested entrants should assemble at Crosshaven pier.

We will have one RIB to take seven swimmers at a time out to Currabinny pier and will have experienced swimmers to swim back with them.  It will be first come, first served basis so expect to have some waiting.

Steve Redmond & feed bottles

On my few long swims in the wetsuit last year, I used cold drinks in milk bottles.  In togs this year and needing warm drinks, the milk bottles don’t work, so I took Carol Cashell’s advice and went to The Edge to invest in a Contigo bottle.

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

CMP vs Contigo – out with the old……

Much to my surprise, Steve Redmond – as in, “starting his swim from Ireland to Wales at 11.30pm tonight”, Steve Redmond –  was standing at the display counter, pondering which of the bottles to choose.

Being an expert in the field, I gave him sterling advice.   I was literally off the phone to Carol being told what to get: she even sent me a picture.  I sounded like I knew what I was talking about, because Carol does and I was just parroting her.  Mr. Redmond chose what will now be known as Carol’s Bottle.  So, when he reaches Wales, I will claim the credit for the advice and if there are any problems with feeds on the way, Steve should contact Carol at swimmersrock.com.  Good luck, Steve!

Open water, sea Swimming in Cork, Ireland

Simon Worley, Steve Redmond and a delighted hanger-on.

Follow Steve here.

August & September swim times

Planned swim times for Myrtleville Beach. These are the times most likely that a group will assemble. Email myrtlevilleswimmers@gmail.com if you’re interested any day.  Or tweet @Berlyn1966.

These times can vary earlier or later, so definitely check in advance if you’re coming on your own.  Swim at your own risk. Don’t swim alone. Always swim in groups.

  • Monday: 18:00
  • Wednesday: 06:30
  • Friday: 06:30
  • Saturday: 08:15

No morning swim planned on Saturday, 21st September – Myrtleville to Church Bay Swim.

Open Water Sea Swimming in Cork, Ireland

2012 Myrtleville – Church Bay Swim participants (pic Howard Crowdy)

Bye buoy

The yellow buoy near Bunny’s was proving popular at high tide early yesterday evening for swimmers practicing their sprints for Crosshaven Tri.  Unfortunately, one of the other buoys formerly anchored at the Dutchman has started to head towards France, so hopefully nobody used that as a sighting guide.

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Dodgy yellow buoy gone to France.

There was a bit of a chill going in, but it still felt quite warm very quickly after that.  Getting in is the hard bit……

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Possibly feeling a little colder tonight…..Eleanor Courtney and Carol Cashell.

It always feels great when it’s done, though.

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Michelle Glossop Smyth, Gary Frost, Joleen Cronin, Siobhan Russell, Grace O’Shea, Richie Kelleher.

Thanks to Siobhan Russell for the pictures.