The Annual Sheephaven SAC John Mc Garvey Memorial Fin Swim held last Saturday from Burtonport to Arranmore was a great success for all that were involved and once again a testament to the hard work of Hugo Mc Fadden who organised the event.
The weather conditions were very poor with a driving westerly head wind that picked up a significant chop in the Sound, making for one of the most challenging Fin Swims for many years.
Donegal Person of the Year Annemaire Ward accompanied by Noel Brennan led the swimmers across and set a steady pace that kept the group together, which ensured the swimmers completed the two and half mile swim in one hour forty five minutes, five minutes faster than last year. Twenty-five swimmers put out from Burtonport slipway catching the ebbing tide and proceeded out to open water in Arranmore Sound via the Black Hole and keeping Rutland Island on the left.
One abiding memory of the crossing was that of the navigation perch half way across that seemed to never get any closer, but having persevered to eventually past it the end of the swim came quite quickly afterwards. Another feature of the swim was the significant proportion of trainees who were participating for the first time and are to be highly commended for successfully completing the course in such difficult conditions.
The funds generated from the sponsorship of the Annual Fin Swim are used to support the Sheephaven Search and Rescue Unit, which is made up of qualified divers and snorkelers from Sheephaven SAC. Indeed it was the need to establish a S&R Unit in the locality in the 1970s that set in motion Doe Amateur Swimming Club to approach Neil Bracken to help establish Sheephaven SAC and two of those founders not only led last Saturdays swimmers across but were first there, namely Noel Brennan and Willie Sheridan.
An event like last Saturdays relies upon the good will and assistance of a number of people and Sheephaven SAC would like to thank the following, Hugo for organising the whole event; Timmy Boyle, Brendan Proctor, Joe Neely and Donal McEleney who along with the crew of the Bunbeg Coast Guard plus Francie Bonners and his assistant provided much needed boat cover considering the rough conditions; Annemarie of course for leading us out with Noel Brennan; Willie and Agnes Sheridan for keeping the snorkelers connected with Annemarie; Dominick Sweeney for helping us plan it around the tides and especially getting the timing right through the notorious Black Hole; and all the passenger Ferries for giving us a wide berth!
Also to be thanked are Jerry Early and his wife Pat for the great feed and warm hospitality in Early’s Bar afterwards; Mary Early for providing the warm showers and overnight accommodation; Bonner B&B for providing the hearty breakfast on the Sunday morning and Milo Butler and all at BC Embroidery, Crolly for the 50 plus hats with the club logo. To Maire McGarvey and her daughters Ciara, Emer and Triona for being a part of this celebration and remembrance of Maire’s late husband, John McGarvey. To Noel Brennan and Willie Sheridan who towed the dive boats to Burtonport and made sure they got back to the clubhouse safe and sound afterwards.
Finally for all the supporters who waved us off and greeted us when we landed at the slipway. If there was a prize for the biggest family gathering it would be a close fought battle, with the Scott cousin’s pipped at the post by the large turnout from Glackin clan of Tubberkeen and Portnoo!
With the Annual Sheephaven John Mc Garvey Swim Fin over for another year the club looks forward to other events starting with Rosses Snorkelers Try-A-Snorkel session at Cloughglass, Burtonport on the 21st July from 3 to 5pm. For anyone who wants to avail of the opportunity to take up snorkelling and join in a fun family day they should contact firstname.lastname@example.org . This will be followed on the 29th July with the Sheephaven SAC trip to Portacloy in North Co. Mayo. After that the Mulroy Bay swim takes place on the 4th August this year a more competitive swim leaves from the Fanad side of the lough, for those that what a bit of a challenge. The entry fee is €25 which goes to RNLI and local clubs, Madge Carr is organising the event and she can be contacted on 086 1902506.
Finally Annemaire Ward is swimming off once again on her travels, when in two weeks’ time she will be one of a party that intends to swim the Bering Sea from Russia to Alaska. Sheephaven SAC wish Annemaire and all her party the very best and hopefully a following sea to assist them in their crossing.