I wanted to do the Lee swim for the last few years so this year when two of my team mates from Cork underwater hockey decided to sign up, I finally took ‘the plunge’.
It was a stunning sunny morning when we went in to register, conditions unfortunately changed to cold and drizzly in time for the big event. Respect is due to the supporters who cheered on from the riverside in the not so clement conditions.
As we walked down to the North mall there was great excitement when we spotted a seal swimming up the river tail-gating a kayak.
Ned Denison gave an inspiring briefing to get everyone into the spirit. He greeted all types of swimmer from those for whom this would be their longest swim ever, all the way up to the veteran long distance swimmers. There was an incredibly inclusive and encouraging atmosphere in the room during his rousing speech!
You meet lots of people you know waiting to start and I bumped into swimmers from Mayfield pool in the long line, this helped to keep the nerves at bay.
I was too nervous to dive in case my goggles came off, I will next time, so I slipped in from the start pontoon. I’m more used to swimming in the sea so the fresh water (Cork’s finest!) was a novelty. Friendly canoeists kept an eye on us and let me know if I was veering off course into a bridge. It is brilliant seeing all the familiar buildings from a new angle and hearing bits of chat and traffic. It’s a whole new perspective to see your city from. I counted my way through the nine bridges and focused on getting to the next one each time, when I looked up and saw Merchant’s Quay I couldn’t believe I was that far already, I didn’t take the tidal push into account and how much it helps.
Mick Ahern who coaches us for swimming in Cork underwater hockey gave me very helpful advice- to swim at a steady pace until I passed the sixth bridge and after that push hard until the finish line. Turning the corner at the port of Cork sign was my favourite part of the swim. The water had gotten progressively saltier so you knew you were getting closer and then to swim past the sign and pass the massive navy ship was such a thrill. As soon as the yellow finish float came into sight I just put the head down and swam as fast as I could. It wasn’t as tough as people said it would be pushing against the tide as it was so exciting with the crowds gathered and all the swimmers were picking up the pace around me.
There was a fantastic atmosphere at the port of cork buildings getting showered and changed and there was great camaraderie among everyone there including the really helpful organisers and all the volunteers helping out.
I always smile to myself now when I’m crossing one of the bridges and hope to do the swim many more times! Hopefully I’ll be able to rope in a few more friends and teammates to join me this year!