As the sun sets on sheep-haven bay what an incredible 3.5km swim from the cap of horn head to portnablagh pier..with 110 swimmers taking to the choppy waters with the most fabulous & iconic backdrop of hornhead punched with caves hidden inlets and the golden strand of killyhoey beach. Swimmers were welcomed at sign on with warm smiles by the event organisers the “Gartan Open Waters Swimmers” at the now famous house of harbour master Charley Robinson & Mary on the shore Rd portnablagh.
As the energy was rising you could see into the eyes of first times the fear of what lay ahead and the calming experiences words from the seasoned open water specialists. Mark Mc Colum doing the honours briefing from the pier wall & putting safety to the fore, as usual it was organised to a tee. Charley Robinson had drafted in supporting boats big & small to ship us all to the cap dome at horn head.. with final orders from ,” voted into the halls of fame top 100 world open water swimmer” & local native Annemarie ward …321 were off like power boats the super fast showing most of us a clean set of heels as they kicked into the distance and for the rest we swam for our lives, literally… personally i drank half the bays water and tried my damdest to stay side by side with similar strength swimmers… condition where beautiful & brutal, super tough with choppy swells making finding any rhythm vertually impossible, so with no flare or panash it was just good old Irish brut force.. stroke after stroke using muckish mountain as line of sight, rounding the green buoy,marking the half way point, killyhowey bay on our right the wind filled waves breaking the finish line felt like it was light years away.With great support from the safety kayaks which were in abundance there kind words helped push us on… there it was ,like a mirage portnablagh pier “I thought it would never come”. From the shore side the shouts of support, was wonderful… and committee member paddy bond on Mc passionately shouted each swimmer out, as if each of us were winners .. it was brilliant, honest and fun filled. The challenges of the last hour were firmly behind now as fellow swimmers hugged, shook hands and the warm congratulations flowed in abundance. Food after was provided by Pat Brady from the kitchen Resturant Letterkenny & with the barbecue smells drawing us back like the bisto kids to HQ at Charley’s house… the evening rounded of with prize-giving & everyone wearing the bespoke sheephaven bay hand made medals …it was just brilliant what an event on the shores of donegal.
Best of all was sharing the day with good friends and my 16yr old daughter kate by my side ,stroke for stroke i was super proud.life really just doesn’t get much better.
Huge congrats to the Gartan open water swimmers on organising an incredible open water swim event – Charley Robinson and his volunteer boat providers & helpers – the safety kayakers and of course fellow swimmers the winners huge kudus at your fierce pace & ability & first timers take a bow & fairplay & the rest well “The difference between TRY & TRIUMPH is a little UMPH.