Rough water exits – or maybe “Just don’t do it”

The sea was rough last week and we’re heading into Winter, when rough water and waves will be much more common.  Swimming in the waves is often touted as great crack – no question. 

Getting in and getting out of the waves is not quite so much fun and is potentially dangerous. 

We’re very lucky in Myrtleville to have a sandy, safe exit most of the time.  There are rocks, and occasionally thick loose seaweed however, and even on sand a wave can hit and flip you very easily.  That’s painful – and dangerous.  Think before you get in and think very hard about how you’ll get out.  It’s too late to do that when you’re in the waves and find the undertow is pulling you out.

Donal Buckley on has done a very detailed series on this and I’m going to point everyone there.  However, I’m going to copy a couple of his lines below – just as a summary. 


  • You should not be getting into open water before you know where or if you can safely exit.
  • You should not let others decide for you if exit conditions are safe.
  • Alternatively you should not get into the water simply because someone else is already in there.
  • A corollary of these statements is that you should not be getting in the water in anticipation that a safe exit will somehow present itself once you have entered the water.

Swim safe – which can mean “don’t swim today”.  If it looks a bit dodgy to get in, it’ll be a lot worse to get out 🙂

Real December water – but not cold….

Mr. Lynch’s picture shows that it’s a bit frothy at the beach, but still swimmable out beyond the wave break in his famous “calm bit”.   Just a small few down swimming, but it’s still not cold.

Open water, sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Myrtleville – 10 December, 2013

Stormy Monday

We really got lucky with the weather last Saturday – if we had faced this Monday’s weather, it would have meant another swim cancellation.  Monday was great fun to surf around, though…for those willing to try it….

Open Water, sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Hmmmm – will I go in or won’t I? No….Siobhan opts for the “I’m taking pictures” option…

First to test the waters – Joanne & Tadhg were early: conducting sea-lice experiments.Open water, sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Next in were Diarmuid Herlihy & Rian Herlihy – Rian is swimming the Straits of Gibraltar in 2014.  Diarmuid already knows the route!

Open water, sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Over a dozen swimmers on a night like this – no stopping us 🙂 .

Open water, sea swimming in Cork, Ireland


Open water, sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Peter O’Mahony & David O’Mahony – with Safe Swimmers

Open Water, sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Stephen O’Reilly & Gary Frost

Some people just hate the water….read Carol’s latest exploits here.Open water, sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Monday nights will continue until October 21st – the clocks go back on October 27th, so that will be that.

We’re also swimming at 8.15am on Saturdays, which will continue right through the Winter.  Some afternoon swims are also planned and we’ll post these details once we’ve worked them out.  All welcome, as ever.

Swimming with the ships

Riana Parsons took a couple of great pictures in Myrtleville yesterday.  Have to say, I didn’t notice the second ship over the tops of the waves, which were a lot higher in the middle of them than they look in the pictures!

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Race you to the ship – Myrtleville 9 April, 2013

Open Water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Ships playing chicken – Myrtleville – April 9, 2013

Stormy weather

Riana Parsons very kindly passed on some fantastic pictures she took from Myrtleville (closer to Fennell’s Bay) towards Roches Point.  It wasn’t very swimmable…

Open Water Sea Swimming in Cork, Ireland

Roches Point from Myrtleville / Fennell’s Bay

Open Water sea swimming in Cork Ireland

Roches Point across waves breaking on the Dutchman rocks

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Cargo ship passing Roches Point – taken from Myrtleville

White water

We’ve had a mild Winter, with very few days when you couldn’t swim in the sea at Myrtleville.  Last Sunday, however, the pool looked like an attractive option compared to the open water….

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Rough water in Myrtleville, 17 February 2013

Open water sea swimming in Cork, Ireland

Rough water in Myrtleville, 17 February 2013

That looks like a calm bit……

Not the nicest of days for open water swimming in Ireland.  Bernard reckoned there was a calm bit just beyond the wave breaks, so in we went.  He was wrong.  It got considerably rougher but great crack, though.

Spot the calm bit......Myrtleville Dec. 11, 2012

Spot the calm bit……Myrtleville Dec. 11, 2012

Swimming in Open Water is just like swimming in the Pool, isn’t it?

This may not be the same advice all coaches would give on rough water swimming but it’s topical in this Irish Summer so we’ll reproduce it here from an Article courtesy of Swim Smooth – Feel for the Water:

Something we often hear on internet forums is that swimming in open water is just like swimming in the pool. Unfortunately it isn’t!

What do you do when you turn up at a race and are faced with conditions like these:

Our tips:

Stay calm before the start and back yourself to cope.

– As soon as you’re swimming, make sure you exhale smoothly into the water, this will help you relax and stay aerobic.

– Use a slightly straighter arm recovery to give you a greater arm clearance over the surface of the water.

Focus on momentum in your stroke: shorten things a touch and keep a strong rhythm to help punch through waves and chop. It’s a little like using a smaller gear on the bike, you turn over quicker but each stroke is easier, keeping the effort level the same.

Avoid over-gliding in your stroke at all costs or you will be swamped by waves and chop, and could end up being swept backwards!

Enjoy the challenge and repeat to yourself a positive mantra that works for you, e.g. when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Cheesy but effective!

Remember that everyone finds swimming in rough conditions hard and swims slower than in flat conditions, even professional athletes. But cope well using the tips above and you will doing better than 90% of the field and will put a lot of time and distance into your competitors.

Whilst you may not be planning to be swimming in rough open water conditions, even a mirror flat lake will be churned into a lumpy, choppy mess by other swimmers in your race. For that reason a super-long pool stroke is rarely effective in open water.