The Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim, now in its sixth year, is set to raise €300,000 in support of Cancer Care West. The annual swim from Auginish in Co Clare to Blackrock diving tower in Galway will take place this Saturday.
The swim, which is a distance of roughly 13 kilometres, has seen some 70 swimmers make successful crossings, raising nearly €250,000 for Cancer Care West in the process. This year the swim is set to raise that mark to some €300,000. The funds raised have helped the charity to launch several new services to the people of Galway and the rest of Connacht.
“We are hugely grateful for the support and interest shown by all the swimmers in the work we do here at Cancer Care West,” said David O'Donnell of Cancer Care West.
The swim, which began in 2006, gives participants the opportunity to swim the bay under supervision and raise money for Cancer Care West. The swim was renamed in 2008 in memory of Frances Thornton, who passed away after a long battle with cancer.
Kevin Thornton, son of Frances Thornton and organiser of the Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim, said there has been huge interest in the event, with swimmers once more applying from around the country to take part.
“Some notable swimmers include Ruaidhrí Geraghty, Ironman 70.3 Galway organiser; Stephen Early, fifth at the recent Irish Triathlon Championships; Andy Flanagan, 2010 English Channel Swimmer; and English Channel Swim hopeful Sorcha Barry, who is using this event as part of her training for her attempt in September,” he revealed. “Completing the line up will be Claire Thornton, 15, our youngest female participant to date.”
Training for this event has involved many hours’ swimming up and down in the swimming pool and along the Salthill Promenade in varying conditions, while trial swims have included swimming from Blackrock to Mutton Island and back, a distance of just over five kilometres — a little under half the width of the bay itself.
Getting physically and mentally prepared for this type of swim is a huge challenge. The water temperature is approximately 15 degrees Celsius at this time of year and great mental strength is needed to overcome this. The weather conditions are unpredictable and beyond the swimmers’ control. They will simply do their best not to disturb passing seals while trying to avoid the jellyfish and passing vessels.
The swimmers’ safety will be managed by Ciaran Oliver who will co-ordinate up to two dozen safety boats. The swimmers should arrive at Blackrock in Salthill between 12 noon and 2.30pm on Saturday, and Galwegians are invited to go to Blackrock and give support to the swimmers and to the charity. Entertainment will be provided by the Galway Bay FM Roadcaster.