Over 100 swimmers took to the sea for the first night of Ballyholme Yacht Club's Open Water Swimming series last night. The series is now in its fourth year with participants from 8 years old to seasoned triathletes looking for some extra training.
Last year swimmers came from across Northern Ireland to Ballyholme Bay with a number of parties in training towards swimming the world famous North Channel swim from Donaghadee to Portpatrick which is part of the Ocean Sevens that participants travel around the world to complete. Several Indian and USA visitors based themselves in Bangor for a month's training whilst the Donegal Diamond waterpolo team had a relay squad that completed the 35km swim.
Following registration at the club and a detailed briefing, the swimmers dipped their toes in and got used to the temperature. Whilst most wear swimming wetsuits, some of the more experiences swimmers swim as "skins" in preparation for other open water events later in the year. However the briefing stresses that the Monday night swimming is not a race.
A course is set in Ballyholme Bay of approximately 750m around yellow buoys. The better swimmers completed 2 to 3 laps whilst others opted just to swim to the first mark or cut across the middle. Safety is provided by kayaks and RYA First Aid trained crews in Ribs. With prevailing south-westerly winds, the swimmers normally enjoy sheltered flat water in the sandy bay.
After an hour, all of the participants came out on the end with smiles on their faces. And looking forward to next week's swim on Bank Holiday Monday. The series runs every Monday evening until 11th September. To register for the swimming or to find out more about the series, please visit here