The Sandycove Island Swim club is not reponsible for open-water swimming around Sandycove Island.
It publishes on a website a list of high-ish tide times during the year to encorage swimmers to meet in groups and swim safely.
The club also sponsors a number of local open water swims open only to members of Swim Ireland (for insurance cover reasons).
And finally the club encourages swimmers to join various google groups which bring news, help educate and generally improve the overall safety of 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.
SWIM SAFE, SWIM IN GROUPS
…and don’t do silly things…
This is the best written advice I have read this year. Thank you. I swam the challenge on Saturday. Very enjoyable.