Open water adventures in South West Ireland

This is a guest post from Nuala Moore, a veteran open water swimmer and event organizer who hails from SW Ireland. In addition to many other swimming feats, Nuala was part of a relay team that swam around Ireland (830 miles – no wetsuits) over 56 days. She’ll also be making a local appearance next month during her 6th Chicago Triathlon. Welcome Nuala!

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My name is Nuala Moore, and I am an open water swimmer living in the SW of Ireland. We are surrounded by amazing beaches, and the water flowing through our islands is the fastest and the freshest in spirit that you can swim in.

The water temperatures vary from early 40’s to 60’s (Fahrenheit). A huge variable is the air temperature. We rarely get above 70 so that means that the air is whipping the heat from our bodies quickly.

I am a super fan of deep water swimming and love the jaunt away from the shore. One of the biggest challenges that swimmers face here is that of the power of the water. Sometimes you wish to swim one way but it may not be possible. So we time our swims with the tide.

Anxiety and stress can often be the main reason that swimmers don’t finish. I try to work with that. We really have to learn to trust the boat crews. Their job is soley to mind us, and actually handing that trust can be a huge issue.

This weekend we have a 6km swim and a 3km swim in a beautiful bay of Ballydavid. It is called The Massacre after the 1580 battle in Smerwick harbour. We swim to the base of the monument. -Dramatic name!!


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We also have a regatta to contend with, so it’s limited to 30 swimmers. Due to the tidal flow and emptying of the bay, we swim in a direction south of our destination; and the tide leaving the bay will usually bring us to where we need to go. The tide should be turning to get us home the other 3km.

You could end up swimming 2km longer just by getting this line wrong. How bays empty and fill is so important to know and to study for safety reasons. Also, it’s essential to have swimmers who can adjust their plans as well and not get stressed when they see themselves heading somewhere else.


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Challenges differ in all waters, but overall I love the open ocean. It is so rewarding seeing swimmers battle and get there. I am a fan of getting swimmers to regroup and swim in a pod. It is very responsible and gives the surge of confidence and energy to drive on. We always have BBQ and a hot chocolate afterwards – super to share the experiences.

I also host swims of 2km/3km and 5km. I think once you’re wet and you have no plans for the afternoon, we may as well forge away.

Swimming is such a liberation of mind and soul. All the voices in your head are quelled by your own bubbles.

Here’s hoping for a super Massacre and the hope that Mother Nature looks kindly on us! All my swims are charity based, and we are all winners.

Swim Safely,
-Nuala

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