Ennell chosen for long-distance swimming event

This summer Lough Ennell has been chosen as one of just four lakes in Ireland to host the Open Water Swimmer Challenge.

On August 17 dozens of swimmers will take the plunge into Westmeath’s second largest lake as part of a series of swims that starts next weekend in Lough Key in Co Roscommon, continues to Gougane Barra in west Cork on July 20, and finishes up with an estimated 400 participants in Glendalough, Co Wicklow on September 7-8.

For decades Lough Ennell was off-limits for this level of aquatic pursuit, but €40m worth of sewerage improvements around Mullingar in the last number of years makes such an exploit possible.

“Open Water Swimmer covers a couple of bases. It’s for triathletes who need a bit of extra training, or for people who just want to get into open water swimming,” said spokesman Wayne Timmons, before defining open water swimming as “anywhere not in a pool”.

The Ennell swim will be held over two distances - 750m, and 1,500m - and wetsuits are optional.

Open Water Swim Ireland will bring their own safety team for the day, but “we won’t say no to local volunteers”, said Mr Timmons.

“The combination of stunning scenery and the chance to swim in some of Ireland’s most beautiful lakes will ensure that this is one outdoor challenge not to be missed,” said John Fitzgerald of Open Water Swimmer Ireland.

“Swimming in open water is very different to swimming in the clear waters of a swimming pool. Besides adjustments that you may need to make to your stroke technique, the biggest factor for most people is adjusting to the outdoor environment and the lower water temperatures that accompany it,” he added.

“We are delighted to have Bewley’s on board again this year as sponsors of our open water swims. Whether you’re a seasoned open water swimmer, a tri-athlete looking for a personal best time in a beautiful location, or a first-timer wanting to take the plunge in a safe environment, we have the distance to suit you. We are very excited to be returning to Glendalough in September for a two-day event. This will only be the second time swimmers will have ever been allowed to swim in the famous Glendalough lake,” he concluded.

For those interested in registering for Open Water Swimmer’s events log on to www.openwaterswimmer.ie


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