14 years swimming across the Bay for Cancer Care West

Galway Advertiser's Christina Hyland - swimming across the bay this weekend.

Galway Advertiser's Christina Hyland - swimming across the bay this weekend.

Now in its 14th year, the Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim in aid of Cancer Care West returns to the waters of Galway Bay this Saturday. And I will be one of the swimmers taking part.

The swim which is sold out will see close to 130 swimmers taking part this year and it is now one of Ireland’s biggest and longest one day swims. We will be starting from Aughinish in Co. Clare and finishing at Blackrock Diving Tower in Salthill — the swim is a distance of roughly 13 kilometres....if you swim straight, which is our intention.

This year there will be 69 solo swimmers and 65 relay swimmers taking part in teams of two ,three, and four swimmers. Since the swim began 14 years ago, 740 people have swam the Bay and this year again it will be a mixture of swimmers who have completed the swim every year and complete novices.

This Saturday more than 100 swimmers will take to the water at Aughinish beach in Co Clare and swim the 13km across Galway Bay getting out at the diving tower at Blackrock. The swimmers have been in training for months for this day, battling the elements out in all weathers and sea states.

I have been building up my distance in training over the past while, and am looking forwrad to the challenge this weekend. This is both a physical and mental challenge as you are emerged in cold water for hours, cannot get out to take breaks and the environment you’re in is out of your control.

Each swimmer with have their own boat and crew and a safety buoy attached, to guide us across as once we are in the water they will not be able to see the shore and can become disorientated. The crew play a key role in getting the swimmer across safely.

All their training will be worthwhile once they get to the other side and see the sea floor come up to meet them again, the outline of Salthill, the diving tower and the crowds of cheering people to welcome us home. Swimmers will be arriving from 12 noon at Blackrock and donations are greatly appreciated and will be going to Cancer Care West. For more details and sponsorship links, visit www.galwaybayswim.com

Last year’s swim raised more than €100,000 for Cancer Care West and we are hoping to beat that this year. The monies raised will help fund the expansion of support services for cancer patients including a counselling service for children and a dedicated gym rehabilitation space for cancer patients.

Safety is a priority for the swim, each year the event reaches out to the maritime community in the west to support the swim through boat support. Ciaran Oliver of Galway Bay Boat Tours and Oranmore Maree Coastal Rescue are helping out again this year.

Each swimmer needs a boat to follow and track their swim, organisers are again this year asking any boat owner to get in contact with the hope they can volunteer their services on the day. The most suitable boat is a 5.0m Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB ) with a 50HP engine or equivalent and we are again asking people to help support the swimmers in this year’s swim across the Bay, “explained Ciaran Oliver of Galway Bay Tours.

The Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim will take place on Saturday July 20. People are invited to go down to Blackrock diving tower, Salthill to welcome the swimmers home from 12 noon. See you there soon afterwards. Wish me luck.

To volunteer or for more details check out http://www.galwaybayswim.com/www.facebook.com/galwaybayswim or contact Dave O’Donnell on 087-9088587

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