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Pioneering Swimmer Mercedes Gleitze Commemorated in Galway Sea Swim

2nd June 2022
The Swimming A Long Way Together project planned by Daws involves events across the island, with “live, immersive, multi-disciplinary events” and exhibitions in Dublin, Cork, Donaghadee and Galway
The Swimming A Long Way Together project planned by Daws involves events across the island, with “live, immersive, multi-disciplinary events” and exhibitions in Dublin, Cork, Donaghadee and Galway

Pioneering sea swimmer Mercedes Gleitze was the first British woman to cross the English Channel and first to navigate the Straits of Gibraltar.

On August 3rd, 1931, Gleitze swam from the Aran island of Inis Meáin to Awleen bay in An Spidéal on August 3rd, 1931. She was the first to make the 20-mile crossing, and in a time of 19 hours.

Her destination was Salthill in Galway, and a large crowd had gathered to welcome her. To make up for their disappointment, Gleitze completed a “demonstration swim” at Salthill the following Tuesday.

Mercedes in the North Channel on 26 July 1928 during her second attempt to cross from Donaghadee, N.I. to Portstewart in Scotland. (Northern Whig & Belfast Post/British Library/Gleitze Archive.)Mercedes in the North Channel on 26 July 1928 during her second attempt to cross from Donaghadee, N.I. to Portstewart in Scotland. (Northern Whig & Belfast Post/British Library/Gleitze Archive.)

Inspired by this, artist and sea swimmer Vanessa Daws has created an “aquatic homage” to her. On the evening of Saturday, June 11th, a “swim procession” will take place from Salthill’s Ladies Beach to Blackrock, involving local swimmers and art installations, along with the spoken word from Órla McGovern and live music by Big Jelly, Adhoc Choir and Landless.

Artist and sea swimmer Vanessa DawsArtist and sea swimmer Vanessa Daws

The “public celebration” planned by Daws will follow a more private commemoration when Vanessa Daws and the Atlantic Masters Swimming Club swim 22 kilometres as a relay team from An Spidéal to Blackrock.

The Swimming A Long Way Together project planned by Daws involves events across the island, with “live, immersive, multi-disciplinary events” and exhibitions in Dublin, Cork, Donaghadee and Galway.

More details here

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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