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Swim Briefing


is from 8am until 9am - Please don't leave it until the last minute to arrive for registration.  You will only add stress to yourself prior to the swim if there is a long delay.  Competitor bags and t-shirts can be collect at this time.
All our swims are run from the waters edge, find the water and you'll find us.
will be held 10 minutes before each swim start but information will be posted onsite all day.  This will include a detailed description of the course.  But all our courses are swam clockwise, with large (4ft high) buoys marking the way.  Course shapes vary from location to location due to venue shapes. You can find links to course maps on each events home page.


Swim Times will be displayed on the and our facebook page 24 hours after the swims and posted on our information boards at the lake soon after the race.  Plus a race clock will be in position for you to read. 


We aim to provide a safe and fun environment for everyone to enjoy the freedom and challenge of open water swimming. If for any reason you experience difficulties while taking part in our swims, roll onto your back an raise a hand in the air. The buoyancy of your wetsuit will keep you afloat and you will be rescued immediately by one of our kayak safety crew or our fast rescue boat, and transferred to the shore.

Brightly coloured swim caps to aid visibility while in the water are supplied and must be worn.

Kayak Safety Marshals are in place all around the course

Fast Rescue Boat is on scene manned by a qualified beach lifeguard.

Trained Aquatic Rescue & First Aid staff are on site for every event

Wetsuits are advised.

If you have an impediment or medical ailment that the saftey staff should know of you must inform them prior to the swim start.

Swim Tips

Open Water Swimming Tips
Swimming in open-water (river, lake or ocean) is very different to swimming in the clear warm waters of a swimming pool. Besides adjustments that you may need to make to your stroke technique (which we will discuss shortly), the biggest factor for most people is adjusting to this strange environment and overcoming the fear and anxiety that it often represents. The simple tips below, can help master the transition of converting yourself from an efficient pool swimmer into an effective open-water swimmer.

1. Get used to wearing your wetsuit.

Some say there can be a 10% increase in speed from a good suit but one thing that is certain is its warmer. But many new users feel that whilst they love the buoyancy and warmth,swimming in it just feels plain 'weird'.

Complaints of heavy arms and shoulders are common. The reasons for these problems boil down to one of two things:

- the fit of your wetsuit / how you put it on

- the technique that you use when swimming in your suit

Getting your suit fitted for you is absolutely essential and we'd always recommend trying a suit on first before buying it; you're taking a gamble with an online purchase.

Even with the right fitting suit, many people hurry to put their suit on before a race and so fail to put it on properly. Make sure you pull the suit as high up into  your crotch as possible and get a partner to 'shoe-horn' your shoulders in by pulling the suit on around your upper back.

Once on, a little bit of water down the neck of the suit will both prepare you for the shock of the cold and also provide a little bit of lubrication between you and the suit.

The wetsuit inevitably constrains your stroke technique somewhat. Try adapting your stroke to combat this - don't aim for a really high elbow recovery as you'll simply fatigue your shoulders by working against the material of the suit. Instead, adopt a slightly straighter arm recovery technique and swing your arms over the top. Make an effort not to force this movement…work with the suit, not against it.

If you are someone with good natural buoyancy and feel your legs/feet are too high and unbalanced in a suit then you try raising your head slightly when you swim and looking slightly further forward. This will help bring your legs down a touch and give you better balance with the suit on. This problem is more common with women as they carry their buoyancy lower down their body.

2. Overcome Anxiety

The most important aspect of the freestyle stroke technique is breathing. Pure and simple. If your breathing technique is not efficient in the pool, then you will also struggle in the open-water.

Focus on your body and your breathing. If you do struggle with your breathing and relaxation in the pool, don't see this as stopping you swimming in open water. Instead. see it as a prompt for improving your breathing.

Anxiety in open-water is normally caused by extrinsic factors in the watery environment around you - depth, cold, not being able to see far (if at all!) and having other swimmers in close proximity to you. All of these factors lead to the same physical response - holding your breath.

Holding your breath immediately increases the anxiety further, things start to feel out of control and you may even feel a sense of panic. For many their race is off to a very bad start - or even finishes there and then. Focus instead on intrinsic factors that you can control, for instance breathing, hand entry and smooth strokes. At the race start, block out everything that's happening around you - all those things can take care of themselves. Instead, just focus on yourself, the starter and your first 'sight'.

If you do start to panic during the race then just pause or flip over onto your back for a few seconds. Take a few deep easy breaths, recompose yourself and keep those deep easy breaths going when you start swimming again.

Everyone feels some anxiety in open water, even great swimmers - it's normal. So believe in yourself, you can beat it.

3. Swimming Straight

Sighting techniques are needed to navigate accurately around the swim course. No matter how good your sighting technique, it always costs energy or speed to sight whilst swimming. This is because when you lift your head, your bum and legs want to sink.  But not swimming straight means swimmer further! So you need to find the balance that best suits you.  Only practise will do that.

Find the balance -
1) sighting creates extra drag and slows you down
2) if you're not swimming straight you are wasting lots of
energy (and speed) constantly changing direction.

Breathing to one side in training can cause problems. To swim straight you need a symmetrical stroke and the natural way to become symmetrical is with bilateral breathing. Maybe that's not what you wanted to hear if you find bilateral a challenge but that's the truth. Spend time developing your bilateral breathing in the pool and it will have a massive benefit on your speed in open-water.

4. Master the Art of Sighting

When sighting, raise your head as little as possible to see ahead. Sighting - lifting your eyes out of the water to see where you are going - is very important to navigate accurately around a swim course.

You may think that sighting is as simple as lifting your head to look forward and  see where you are going but it needs a great deal of skill and technique to do it well. The world's best triathletes and open-water swimmers can sight without disrupting the rhythm of their stroke or their body position in the water, and this is key.

Time your sighting just before you're going to take a breath. So if you're about to breathe to your left, lift your eyes out of the water just before by pressing down lightly on the water with your lead arm (in this case it'll be your right). Only lift up enough to get your
eyes just out of the water. Then turn your head to the left to breathe, as you do so, letting it drop down into the water to a normal position.

By keeping a low head position when sighting and then breathing to the side you can keep normal body rotation in your stroke. This helps keep the rhythm of your stroke going and your speed up.

It should be a fluid, rhythmic part of the stroke as opposed to 3 separate movements.  There's a good chance you won't see exactly where you need to be going with one look forward - but don't panic if you don't see much first time. Over several strokes build up a picture in your mind of what you are looking at and where you are going. It will gradually become clearer and clearer as you progress forward. It does depend on water conditions and visibility but normally you'd look to sight about every 9 strokes.

Do your homework in advance of the race and know the layout of the course. Most importantly, be familiar with large immovable objects on the horizon to sight and know how they line up with the course buoys round the course. For instance, the first buoy may be 500m from the start and it's unlikely you'll be able to see it in the melee of the race start. So, knowing a large tree/ building/ hill on the horizon and where it lines up with the first buoy will help ENORMOUSLY. Sight on it instead of the buoy and you'll hit the target in no time.

Make no mistake, efficient sighting technique and the ability to swim straight can make a huge difference to your swim time. In a race no-one wants to swim any further than they have to! Time spent in the water is the best way to master it.

5. Advanced sighting techniques involve using your environment.

Sighting is not just off the buoys, once you've seen the buoy take note of
anything large behind it. For example trees, hills, houses, the sun! etc.
If a mountain is in the same direction as the buoy you are aiming for, use
it. If its bigger it'll be easier to spot and therefore you'll spend less
time with your head in the air.

You can also use side references, such as in Glendalough where the cliffs
run parallel with you. So if you take note of it on your breathes you can
use it to stay heading the direction you want.

Also you can use chop and waves to stay on course. The wind may whip up
waves on any water surface, and these wont change in the time it takes you
to swim a race. So take note of where waves are hitting on you as you head
toward the buoy. Then keep them hitting that spot and you should stay on
course. For example, you are heading out to the first buoy and the wind and
therefore the waves are coming from your right and a little to the front.
They are hitting you on the right ear and shoulder. Keep them there, if the
waves start hitting more onto the top of your head or onto your side then
you've gone off course.


I've registered, what now?

You will have received a confirmation email acknowledging your entry into the event.  All other communications will be sent by email so please make sure we have a correct email address for you.   Any race info, latest news etc will also be displayed on the race pages.

Do I need to wear a wetsuit?

We always strongly advised the use of wetsuits for safety reasons. However, swimmers will have the option to wear a wetsuit or not. 

What are your rules regarding water temperature?

We dont have any!!  If you are brave enough to swim without a wetsuit in Ireland thats your choice. We do however recommend them if are new to open water. 

I've never swam in open water before; can I enter an Open Water Swimmer event?

Of course, this series of events was created to provide a platform for any ability of swimmer to take to the open water. Several distances and environments are available in some of the Irelands most stunning water ways. Most people swimming this year will be taking to the open water for the first time, so don’t worry you won’t be alone…

How old do I have to be?

13 years old on the day of the event.  HOWEVER we would ask anyone between 13 and 17 to contact us as we may require you to bring your own COMPETENT kayaker that will accompany them for the swim

Is the water clean?

Each stretch of water at our venues is tested by the local county councils Environment Agency. The tests cover the microbiological quality of the water; regular samples are taken to show up any water borne nastys such as Weils Disease and Blue Green Algae that might affect the safety of our swimmers.

What happens if I get tired, cold, or I’m struggling in the water and need assistance?

At all our events we stick to water safety norms;

Safety kayaks at regular intervals,
Powerboat assistance,
Ample and Experienced medical cover on standby,
Ability to track swimmers movements in and out of the water,
Strict rules on water temperature and wet suit use.

This means you’re never out of sight and our rescue team will be on hand to assist should the need arise.

What happens if the swim is cancelled?

While we have done our up most to choose locations and venues to prevent the issue that often cause postponement or cancellation in open water swimming events, the very nature of open water swimming does mean cancellation may ensue due to unforeseen weather or unsuitable water conditions. In such cases we will firstly look to postpone the event to another date. If such a situation arises we will contact you directly by email in the days leading up to the event, please make sure your email address is correct at the time of entry. Public announcements will also be made on the website, Facebook and via the media (local and national newspapers and local radio).

I’ve entered a swim but I can’t do it now, can I have a refund? Or can my friend take my place?

We do not offer transfers between people, this is for the safety of the participant. The swimmer who entered online must register in person prior to their swim wave taking place, our team will perform an ID check, if the ID check fails then you will not be able to swim.

What lies beneath?

Ireland may have cooler water but we also have nothing that's 'going to get you'  - a fair trade we think.  Plus being in the wild is what it is all about.

When does online registration close?

All online registrations close at midsay on the Thursday before the event or sooner if the event sells out.  But if you want a t-shirt and goodie bag you must register at least seven days before the event

What do I have to do to get the free goodie bag?

Every swimmer is entitled to a free goodie bag but in order to avail of this you must register at least seven days before the event.

Where do I find the swim on the day?

All our events are run from the lake shore, find the water and you'll find

 In Glendalough – we are shore side at the main viewing beach on the upper

 In Lough Key – we run from the slip way located on the right hand side of
the main car park at the Lough Key Forest Park

In Hodson Bay - we run from right in front of the Hodson Bay Hotel and just past the marina.

How do I get my race number on the day?

We work from the name you submitted online, so once you've registered
that's all we need to assign your race number and goodie bag on the day of the event. All this will happen from a registration tent beside
the shore. Registration has a time window, but you're not the only person
planning on leaving it until the last five minutes! So be warned, arrive
'just in time' like everyone else and you'll be under pressure to make the
start line, and that's not the best way to prepare for a swim.

Can I bring a friend to kayak \ SUP with me?

Some people like to bring a friend to support them from a kayak, be it
with drinks or moral support. And we have no problem with that, please come

But the kayakers need to be competent. Our safety teams are there to
provide cover for swimmers not people falling out of kayaks. Please don't
endanger swimmers by distracting our safety team from them – kayakers know
your limits!

All kayakers must have buoyancy aids and sea worthy boats. All Kayakers
need to make themselves known to the safety officer in the speed boat prior
to the race start.

All Kayakers will be seen by swimmers as a safe haven, so if a swimmer
signals you, you must provide them a floating support (even if that means
your friend swims on without you).

What is the story with the early bird deals?

There are extensive sliding early bird deals in place for all our swims. In
fact if you were to book all four events with the early bird's greatest
discount you would be getting a whole swim for free. You can see the cut
off dates and prices on the home page

Can I swim both distances on the day for one entry?

That depends on which event you are coming to. In all BUT Glendalough you
can swim both the 750m and 1.5km for the one entry. In fact we encourage it
and most swimmers will do both. There is a hour between the two swims so
plenty of time to recover for the second race.

And why not in Glendalough? We have very strict maximum numbers in
Glendalough and the swims actually fill, so in order not to disappoint
anyone we have to keep people to one entry one event.

The great 3.9km v 3.8km debate

An iron distance is named for the original Ironman branded event in Hawaii.
The first swim was in Waikiki bay as part of the Waikiki rough water swim
and that swim, from get in point to get out, was 2.6miles. So by pure
chance the distance used was 2.6miles. 2.6miles is 3.86km. Rounded up in
Hawaii to the 3.9km course now swam in the modern Kailua-Kona. We set a
Hawaiian 3.9km course

Why the water serpent logo?

Many Irish waterways (and all of our swim locations) have mystical tales of serpents and water dragons dwellings deep in the water.......

Swim Series Championship - how it works?

Open Water Swimmer Ireland Swim Series Champion
Overall Swim Series points system -
Each year the person with the accumulated best results will be awarded the title of Swim Series Champion. 
How it works -
Points are allocated to each swimmer from each swim - all distances and all events.  In Lough Key and Hodson Bay swimmer can swim both events for the one entry. In Glendalough each swim distance must be entered separately.
Maximum points of 200 for a win.

Points for each place after first is calculated by the amount of swimmers in each event. The amount of entries is divided into the 200 and the answer then subtracted from the total for the points earned.
The principle being that you are always giving maximum points for a win and then you are rewarded more points if you have beaten more entries.
Example 1 - 200 \ 20 (swimmers) = 10. 200 – 10 = 190 for 2nd place. 200 – 40 = 160 for 4th  place etc.
Example 2 – 200 \ 135 (swimmers) = 1.48. 200 – 1.48 = 198.52 for 2nd
 place. 200 - 5.92 = 194.08 for 4th place etc.
Example 3 – 200 \ 43 (swimmers) = 4.6. 200 – 4.6 = 195.5 for 2nd place. 200 – 18.4 = 181.60 for 4th place.
Maximum points over all locations is - 1400 points (if all events run)
That is 200 per every 750m and 1.5km in three lakes and 200 for the 3.9km in Glendalough.
The league leader at each event will be swimming in a different colour cap than everyone else.
The over all winner will be awarded their prize and title on the Sunday in Glendalough.
Good luck all. 

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