The first even Sheephaven Bay Challenge, which took place last Sunday, was a brilliant success.
The swim attracted 70 participants - 18 skin swimmers and 52 in wetsuits- from all over Ireland and beyond take to the water and swim from Horn Head around Sheephaven Bay and arrive ashore to a warm welcome at Portnablagh harbour.
Rough weather had forced the organisers to postpone the event for 24 hours and conditions were still extremely tough on Sunday, with a significant swell and wind.
The 4k in open Atlantic waters posed significant challenges, not only for the swimmers but also in terms of support and logistics. There were a total of 17 kayaks and 11 boats supporting the participants..
The boats ferried the swimmers to the starting point where the race was started by Anne Marie Ward. The swimmers proceeded past the dramatic landscape of the cliffs of Horn Head before facing out into the Wild Atlantic, then continuing past the stunning blue flag beach at Kilahoey -- not that the swimmers had much time for sight seeing, as they fought the rising swell and choppy water.
The safety of all those in out on the water was paramount. Throughout the swim, the canoeists and safety boats stayed alongside the swimmers and kept them directed towards the next course marker set out along the bay.
The race was won by local swimmer Siobhan Gallagher in an excellent time of 55 minutes, followed by Keith Garry and Triona McMenamin. First junior was Orlaith Fogarty. Roisin Gardiner received a special merit award for completing her first open water event and her first 4k swim after only deciding to take part the night before.
Thanks to all the sponsors and everyone who helped out, especially; Gartan Outdoor Education Centre, Charlie Robinson Estate Agent, Letterkenny Credit Union, Peter Cutliffe Claims Assessor, Dolans Travellers Rest Strabane, Wet N’ Wild, And Pat & Amanda Brady, from The Kitchen.
A delicious barbeque provided by Pat and Amanda Brady of The Kitchen offered much needed sustenance to the swimmers after the event