Swim Safety

As the summer is approaching, so too is our desire to go open water swimming. Before you dip your toe, the importance and awareness of safety in open water swimming cannot be over emphasised. Please take note of the following and abide by these guidelines:

The most important rule:

NEVER SWIM ALONE

Joining a group of swimmers

It can be a bit awkward and feel like you are interrogating someone when you meet them for the first time and they are looking to join you for a swim, but it is a lot better having an awkward moment there than half way around Sandycove island.

Experienced swimmers should always ask someone looking to accompany them:

  • Have you swum this distance recently?
  • Have you swum in these conditions (weather/temperature/location)?
  • Have you any medical issues I should be aware of if anything does go wrong?

If any of these any of these answers lead to concern do the decent thing and offer to accompany the swimmer on a shorter swim than you had originally planned.

Communication is key.

Always buddy up and stay with that person. That way, you can keep an eye on each other and watch out for any signs of anxiousness, fatigue etc.

If you are in any doubt or anxious about the swim/conditions, then you must state it. If you don’t, you are putting your buddy/group at risk.

Dock Beach Swim Routes

The Dock is nicely sheltered and a good spot when low tide. There is a pontoon out in front which is a good target to aim for initially. During club Aquathons, the swim is typically to the pontoon and back twice.

  • Yellow out to the pontoon and back. Approx 400m.
  • Blue out to the pontoon, hang left and cross back in to beach in front (King of the Hill Swim route, approx 750m)
  • Red out to the pontoon and follow coastline another bit and return

Sandycove Island Swim Routes

Sstart with Blue and progress…

  • Blue is a triangle from the slipway across to the island/beach and then across to the Buoys and back to slipway.
  • Green is a longer inside route taking in first corner, regroup here and staying on inside to 3rd corner, regroup again and return to slip. distance 1.2 km approx
  • Red is a lap, distance 1.6km, regroup at each corner (1st, 2nd & 3rd) ensure everyone has made the turn at the 2nd corner

Sandycove Island Swimmers

The Sandycove Island Swimmers site  is really good so please take the time to read their advice on open water swimming:

 “Open water swimming has inherent risks.  Unlike walking, jogging or bike riding we can’t just sit and take a rest.  This is why just about every open water swimmer and club in the world encourages swimmers to swim in groups or with safety craft nearby.

Two swimmers might be a fine group for an out and back swim to the island at a medium tide where one can stand at any time.  Two swimmers might also be a fine group for experienced marathon swimmers in training in a reasonable set of conditions around the back of the island.  Two swimmers is NOT a fine group if you have both done fewer than 10 laps of the Island in the last year.

Swimming alone is silly, stupid and dangerous – please don’t do it.

The safest swims are INSIDE the Island and low and/or 3 hours either side of low water.  BEFORE you even consider swimming around the Island for the first time (ever) or first time this year, do three other open water swims locally first.  That warm water snorkelling you did in Hawaii on your honeymoon last month isn’t really preparation for a cold water Sandycove swim.

THEN go only during one of the published high water times.  This gives you the best opportunity to swim with a group around.  Get your team and swim over and back to the Island once or twice.  The next day/week – swim out to the Island then go left along the inside for a while and then back (we call it the inside triangle).  The next day/week – swim out to the first corner (look to your left – to make it a bit less of an unknown) then swim back along the inside of the Island to the second corner (and look to your right towards the first corner) and swim back to the slipway.  Congratulations – you just swam a distance further than one lap.

Some swimmers NEVER go around and that is fine.  YOU need to make your own personal safety decision.

NOW – pick a nice calm day if you plan your first lap around (lifetime or this year).  CONSIDER wearing a wetsuit for extra warmth and buoyancy.  Ideally you might have a friend in a kayak with an extra flotation device.  Get your group – MUST HAVE one or more experienced Island swimmers.

Does this all sound like overkill?  We have had great swimmers turn the wrong way, miss the turn and swim 3 miles into Kinsale in the dark, panic on the outside, etc.

At the first corner you need to do a self and group check.  Is everyone there?  Is everyone feeling ok?  Are the conditions on the back of the Island (which you are just now seeing from water level) safe for you ALL to continue?

DO NOT keep on going if everyone is not comfortable.  Even if you get to the second corner, you are still only half-way at that stage and gain no advantage by turning back.  Over the years several swimmers have actually crawled out on the island between corners 1 and 3.  In big waves it would be very risky – so don’t count on exiting to safety.

Once you make your first lap (lifetime or year) – don’t get big headed.  There will be days STILL when it is unsafe for you to swim around.  DON’T swim at all on those days or just swim inside the Island.

Final thought for you.  Be considerate.  When you get into trouble in the water, it is not only YOUR safety at stake….you involve all around you. Your group member are now in danger helping you…so try not to get into a situation that could easily have been avoided”