The countdown is on to the second Gartan Swim Challenge which takes place on Saturday, August 20th.
Entries are coming in from Donegal, Sligo, Derry, as well as Dublin, Wexford, and points in between, but there is still time to enter from those wanting to dip their toes into the open water for the first time, to competent swimmers wanting to give open water a go, to seasoned tri-athletes.
The event follows hot on the heels of the Sheephaven Bay swim organized by the same group. Seventy-two swimmers braved the elements at the start of July to complete a testing 4km sea swim at Portnablagh under the cliffs of Horn Head.
The Gartan event provides a taster for open water swimming, or an opportunity to test yourself over a longer distance.
Like last year there are three main distances - a 750-metre course for those who wish to try the open water, 1500-metres for the more adventurous, and for those aspiring to a longer distance there is even a 3.8km swim.
This year the organisers have added a fourth distance (300m) for aspiring open water swimmers aged 12-16. “Donegal has a fantastic selection of young swimmers,” said Paddy Bond, one of the event organisers.
“We want to give them an opportunity too. Swimming is a great family sport.”
“Last year we had a great day’s fun and excitement with over 90 swimmers taking part, and we’re hoping for more this year,’ added another of the organisers, Keith McClean.
New prize categories have been added for this year - a skins category for those who swim without a wetsuit, and age group prizes for younger and older swimmers.
Karen Crawford, who is also helping to organise the August event said the race committee is looking forward to seeing new swimmers and also swimmers returning this year to take on a different distance.
“It’s not about the race, it’s about the challenge and the fun of taking part,” she said.
Each distance is sponsored by local businesses: Tinney’s Toys, Voodoo Venue, Donegal Oil, and Gartan Technologies. Additional event sponsorship is provided by Wet ‘n’ Wild and Swilly Group. The Gartan Swim Challenge is run in conjunction with Gartan Outdoor Education and Training Centre.
Local charity, Kathleen’s Causeway of Coins, which is raising money for the Donegal Hospice, stands to benefit from the event.
There is just enough time left to get your entry in—visit the Facebook page “The Gartan Swim Challenge” and register through Active.com.
You have to be between 12 and 16 for the 300m event, over 14 for the 750m challenge and over 16 for the two longer distances; but whether you wear a wetsuit or just your swimsuit is entirely up to you.