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Displaying items by tag: Sea swim

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth have initiated a study to determine if open water swimming has an impact on depression.

The researchers are seeking people in Britain to take part in the randomised control trial, where some participants will be offered a swimming course.

They will then be compared to a control group receiving their usual care for depression.

The University of Portsmouth team is working with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust on the study.

“Ecotherapy - offering therapeutic intervention in nature – is known to benefit mood,” the research team says.

“There is also emerging evidence to suggest that regular open water bathing could have a positive impact on a person’s mental health. Immersion in cold water gradually reduces stress levels in everyday life and generates a greater sense of wellbeing,” it says.

“The first aim of this project is to see if people will sign up to take part and also whether they remain engaged in the study to the end,” the team says.

“The second is to determine if those with mild to moderate depression benefit from an outdoor swimming course and explore reasons why any changes occur,” it says.

Dr Heather Massey of the university’s department of sport, health and exercise science says the aim is to offer a “streamlined study in more locations that more closely analyses the impact of the outdoor swimming course, the cost-benefit of the activity, and importantly if it helps people to recover, whom it works for and why”.

The researchers note that depression and anxiety in Britain are at “an all-time high, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“However, despite the increasing numbers of newly-trained NHS talking therapists, demand and waiting times continue to grow,” they say.

The study is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, and follows a small-scale study conducted last summer, the results of which are due to be published in the coming months.

Anyone interested in taking part in the study can email [email protected] for more information.

Published in Sea Swim
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The Atlantic Life Boat Swim fundraiser raised over €5,000 last Saturday (July 23rd).

Held at Rinville, Oranmore on Galway Bay, over 150 sea swimmers braved the bad weather for the annual event held in aid of Galway RNLI Lifeboat and the Oranmore Maree Coastal Search Unit.

Organisers have thanked volunteers, swimmers and Galway Bay Sailing Club for supporting the community event.

Published in Sea Swim
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Sporting blue hair, painted blue eyelids and a blue wave painted on his chest, Water Safety Ireland ambassador Henry O’Donnell took to the Donegal coastline to issue a safety appeal on World Drowning Prevention day.

The former Army Ranger, lifeguard, diver and swim instructor, who recently became the first man to finswim around Ireland, invited people to “do one positive thing” to save lives.

Children under the age of five are at highest risk, he noted, with drownings often occurring during routine activities, such as bathing, collecting water for domestic use, travelling over water on boats or ferries, and fishing.

“ The impacts of seasonal or extreme weather events are also a frequent cause of drowning,”he said, and “most of these deaths are preventable with common sense low cost solutions”.

Such solutions include installing barriers controlling access to water, providing safe places away from water such as crèches for pre-school children with capable childcare, and teaching swimming, water safety and safe rescue skills, he said.

Training bystanders in safe rescue and resuscitation, setting and enforcing safe boating, shipping and ferry regulations, adopting a water safety culture and improving flood risk management are other measures, he said.

Drowning is one of the main causes of death around the world for people aged between one and 27 years of age, he noted, and more than 225,000 people drown each year globally.

Listen to Henry O'Donnell on podcast with Lorna Siggins here

Published in Sea Swim
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From Skippingstone Beach on the west side of Bangor Bay on Belfast Lough to the RNLI slipway in the Harbour is 800 metres and last week 200 swimmers raced that distance in the swim called the 'Pickie to Pier' named when it began back in 1910. It was run until 1989 and resurrected in 2019, then suspended during the Pandemic, only to be held again last year.

Pickie was the name of the open-air swimming pool near Skippingstone, long since demolished and in those days, there wasn’t the comfort of accompanying boats, kayaks and paddle boards for safety. One old hand said they just raced across the Bay to the Pier and that was that!

At the Picklet to Pier finishAt the Pickie to Pier finish

The 200-strong group was made up of around 60% female and 40% male. The first four finishers were all women. First was Jessika Robson who won last year, in 9 minutes 15 seconds. Second was Jessika’s sister, Holly just 10 seconds later to be followed by Sian Clements in 9min 45sec.

The event drew large crowds and is no doubt now an established popular part of the Seaside Revival organised by Open House Festival, a charitable organization working towards the regeneration of Bangor.

Published in Sea Swim

Swimmers transiting Galway Bay and tight rope walking across the city’s Claddagh basin will make for busy activity on Galway’s waterways today (Sat July 16) during the hot weather spell.

A total of 130 swimmers have registered to cross the 13km from Aughinish in Clare to Blackrock in Galway for the 16th Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim in aid of Cancer Care West.

In the city, funambulists or high wire/tight rope walkers trained by Galway Community Circus group will demonstrate their skills on the Claddagh basin as part of the Galway International Arts Festival.

Due to Covid-19. the 2020 and 2021 bay swims became virtual events, where swimmers raised money by covering a total distance of 13km during August of those two years.

Stephen Early is first to arrive at the Blackrock diving tower from Aughinish in Co. Clare in a time of 2 hours 35 minutes at the Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim in aid of Cancer Care West in August 2011Stephen Early is first to arrive at the Blackrock diving tower from Aughinish in Co. Clare in a time of 2 hours 35 minutes at the Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim in aid of Cancer Care West in August 2011 Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

The most recent Galway Bay Swim was held in 2019 when 144 swimmers crossed Galway Bay, (49 solo swimmers, 31 relay teams (95 relay team swimmers), and this a new record!

As in 2019, the swimmers will be supported by over 100 boats and 150 crew in the bay, giving of their time voluntarily for the charity event.

Paddleboards and kayaks will guide the swimmers for the final 100 metres into Blackrock diving tower, and spectators on land will also cheer them on.

Fiona Thornton after completing the Frances Thornton Galway Bay Swim, in memory of her late mother, in aid of Cancer Care West. Her sister Claire and their brother Kevin also swam the bay from Aughinish in Co. Clare. Kevin swam both ways, from Balckrock to Aughinish and back.Fiona Thornton after completing the Frances Thornton Galway Bay Swim, in memory of her late mother, in aid of Cancer Care West. Her sister Claire and their brother Kevin also swam the bay from Aughinish in Co. Clare. Kevin swam both ways, from Balckrock to Aughinish and back. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Safety on the crossing is provided by a team of local boat owners, sailors, fishermen, Civil Defence, Oranmore-Maree Coastal Rescue, Doolin Coast Guard, and the RNLI, Cancer Care West says.

Since the event was initiated by the Thornton family, some 900,000 euro has been raised for Cancer Care West.

Seven high lines over the Claddagh and a cast of 150 people of all ages and backgrounds will serve the water stage and cast for “Lifeline”, the Galway Community Circus tightrope walking event which had been proposed for the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture.

The event aims to promote the importance of mental health wellbeing at a popular city location close to the banks of the river Corrib, where there have also been many personal tragedies over the years.

Published in Galway Harbour
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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

Published in Sea Swim
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The Fingal Swim Fest on north Dublin’s Donabate/Portrane peninsula and Mayo’s River Moy Swim are among events taking place in June for Swim Ireland’s new open water programme.

The Enniscrone Pier swim in Sligo on July 3rd, Youghal Swim Fest on July 10th, and events in Loughrea, Co Galway, Belmullet, Co Mayo and in Rathmullan, Co Donegal during the month of August are also planned.

The Lough Key Swim Fest rounds off the summer season on September 10th as part of an open water programme focused on “getting out, being active and completing your own personal challenge”, Swim Ireland says.

“Some have a competitive element and prizes, but we welcome those who also want to take it at their own pace,” it says.

Registration is now open, and prices for challenge and competitive events are between 10 and 45 euros, with a five euro discount for Swim Ireland members.

“Swiminkids” events are 8 euro per participant.

Swim Ireland says those taking part can choose” wetsuit, or no wetsuit”, and “for all events, you have the option of wearing a tow-float to help you feel that bit more confident”.

“There is something for everyone from short non-competitive participation events to longer competitive swims for those looking for a challenge,” it says.

The longer events are also suitable for those who like to swim at their own pace, it says.

More details on dates, locations and registration is here

Published in Sea Swim

Donegal-born former Army Ranger, lifeguard, diver and swim instructor Henry O'Donnell broke his neck during the bicycle section of a triathlon 30 years ago, but hasn't looked back since his recovery.

Anrí Ó Dómhnaill, a father and grandfather, has trekked and climbed to some of the highest and lowest points on four of the globe's continents and led the first successful relay swim around Ireland in 2006.

Former Army Ranger Henry O'DonnellFormer Army Ranger Henry O'Donnell has previously completed a relay swim round Ireland Photo: Rory O'Donnell

O'Donnell set out in September 2020 from Carrickfin beach in the Donegal gaeltacht - where he first learned to swim - with the aim of completing the first solo fin swim around Ireland in aid of two charities, Water Safety Ireland and the Irish Cancer Society.

O’Donnell set out in September 2020 from Carrickfin beach in the Donegal gaeltacht from where he was born and raised Photo: Rory O'DonnellO'Donnell set out in September 2020 from Carrickfin beach in the Donegal gaeltacht from where he was born and raised Photo: Rory O'Donnell

He had to take a pause last year due to Covid, but he and his team are back in the water and on the last long leg up the west coast. By early February 2022, he had raised over €45,000 for the two charities.

O'Donnell has progressed round Ireland in clockwise direction due to the prevailing south-westerly winds Photo: Rory O'DonnellO'Donnell has progressed round Ireland in a clockwise direction due to the prevailing south-westerly winds Photo: Rory O'Donnell

O'Donnell spoke to Wavelengths in Galway about the planning and logistics, reliance on team and community support, the marine life he has encountered, jellyfish stings, and how he copes with the low days.

The webpage link on his project, showing the tracker with his current location, and with details on how to donate is here

The solo fin swimmer faced very strong tides in the Northern Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland Photo: Rory O'DonnellThe solo fin swimmer faced very strong tides in the Northern Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland Photo: Rory O'Donnell

Published in Wavelength Podcast

The RNLI is urging anyone taking part in open water swims and dips to be aware of the risks after revealing five people are alive today after being rescued in swimming-related incidents last winter*.

Cold water shock is a very real danger for anyone entering water that is 15°C or below while swim failure and hypothermia can also pose a risk, especially at this time of year when the average sea temperature around Ireland and the UK is just 6 to10°C.

Last winter, the RNLI saved the lives of five swimmers and helped a further 12 back to safety.

In Sligo, four swimmers found themselves in trouble in large swells. One person was recovered by the RNLI, one made it ashore independently and two others were airlifted to safety by the Coast Guard helicopter.

Stay in your depth - know your limits including how long to stay in the water and swim parallel to the shoreStay in your depth - know your limits including how long to stay in the water and swim parallel to the shore

In the UK, one of those saved was a sea swimmer who was struggling to get back ashore as the tide had turned. The alarm was raised by other swimmers and as the lifeboat arrived the swimmer was struggling to stay afloat, drifting in and out of consciousness and extremely cold.

Volunteers also saved two swimmers who were spotted clinging to a buoy, while a group of swimmers called 999 after losing sight of one of their friends who was then saved by the RNLI.

Kevin Rahill, RNLI Water Safety Lead said: ‘We’ve seen a big increase in the number of people taking up dipping and open water swimming, and it’s amazing so many people are feeling the benefits of a new activity. However for many, this is their first experience of the sea in the colder winter months, so we’re asking everyone to be aware of risks before they enter the water, know how to keep themselves and others safe, and to Respect the Water.

‘With the sea temperatures still dropping and reaching their coldest around March, the effects of cold water, combined with weather conditions and any personal health issues should be taken seriously before venturing in. If it’s your first time in open water, we’d recommend you speak to your GP first, particularly for those with cardiac or underlying health conditions.

‘There are a number of precautions you can take to help ensure you have an enjoyable and safe time. Avoid swimming alone, consider going with others or joining a group so you can look out for each other. Think about the depth of water and if you can, stay in your depth.

‘Also taking the right kit is essential. We’d recommend wearing a wetsuit to keep you warm and increase your buoyancy, together with a bright swim cap and tow float to make yourself visible to others and use in an emergency.

‘The most important thing to remember is if you are in any doubt, stay out of the water and if you or anyone else does get into trouble in or on the water please call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

‘Even the well prepared can find themselves in difficultly but having the correct knowledge and equipment can save lives. Taking a means of calling for help with you, such as a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch with a whistle, really could be a lifesaver.’

RNLI safety tips for taking a winter swim or dip:

  • Be prepared – Check the weather forecast, including tide information and wave height. Take plenty of warm clothes for before and after your dip, along with a hot drink for when you come out of the water. Take a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch. Wearing a wetsuit will help increase your buoyancy and reduce the chances of suffering cold water shock
  • Never swim alone – always go with a buddy, if possible, to a familiar spot and tell someone when you plan to be back
  • Acclimatise slowly – never jump straight in as this can lead to cold water shock, walk-in slowly and wait until your breathing is under control before swimming
  • Be seen – wear a brightly coloured swim cap and consider using a tow float
  • Stay in your depth - know your limits including how long to stay in the water and swim parallel to the shore
  • Float to live - If you get into trouble lean back in the water, extending your arms and legs, and resisting the urge to thrash around to gain control of your breathing
  • Call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard - if you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble call for help immediately
  • If in doubt, stay out – there is always another day to go for a swim
Published in Sea Swim
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Last Saturday (10th July) saw the resurrection of the famous Pickie to Pier swim in Bangor Bay after its cancellation last year due to Covid. Pickie is the previous site of the original sea water swimming pool on the west side of the Bay, which was demolished in the late 1980s to be replaced by a heated indoor pool, and the Pier is the old North Pier, now named Eisenhower Pier in memory of June 1944 when General Eisenhower inspected American troops gathered in Belfast Lough.

The 2019 event was held after a 30-year absence.

First home and taking the Women’s title was Jessika Robson in just seven minutes, followed by Gary Robinson winning the men’s section for the second time in a row.

Jessica Robson centre, first Woman in the Pickie to Pier race with Gary Robinson, first Man and (left) Caroline McCoubrey Seaside Revival Co-ordinator and (right) Alan Whyte, Ballyholme YCJessica Robson centre, first Woman in the Pickie to Pier race with Gary Robinson, first Man and (left) Caroline McCoubrey Seaside Revival Co-ordinator and (right) Alan Whyte, Ballyholme YC

As told in Afloat.ie in January last year, the swim to the pier pre-dates the Bangor swimming club – the 18th annual swim was organised by Donegall Amateur Swimming Club based in Belfast IN 1910. But the Men’s trophy went missing and has never been found.

The Swim organisers from the Seaside Revival Vintage Festival said;  “We're still grinning from ear to ear after yesterday's epic Pickie to Pier Swim. So many smiles, and whoops and cheers of encouragement for the 200 intrepid swimmers who took part in our 2021 Pickie to Pier Swim. The sun shone, the water was calm and clear, and the swimmers and spectators were all very happy people”.

RNLI Bangor after duty at the Pickie to Pier swimRNLI Bangor after duty at the Pickie to Pier swim.jpg

The swimmers swam the 800m course from Skippingstone Beach beside Pickie, to the RNLI slipway at Eisenhower Pier and were sent off and greeted at the finish by huge crowds of spectators.

Paddle board safety volunteers at the Pickie to Pier swimPaddle board safety volunteers at the Pickie to Pier swim

Seaside Revival thanked Alan Whyte and Ballyholme Yacht Club, Marina Manager Kevin Baird and all the volunteers who secured the swimmers on boats, kayaks and paddle boards; the RNLI, and Spar Ballyholme, Spar Gransha Road and Spar Abbeyhill for their support.

Published in Sea Swim
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