Hundreds dive in for Cork’s historic Lee Swim

More than 500 swimmers braved the waters of the River Lee in Cork on Saturday as part of the annual 2km Lee Swim.

Cork Masters Swimming Club and Cork Lions Club run the swim annually as a charity event. The Lee Swim was a major event in the sporting calendar during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

However, due to deteriorating water quality in the River Lee, the event was moved to Monkstown in the 1950s.

Following the commissioning of the Cork Main Drainage scheme in 2003, there was a marked and sustained improvement in water quality. Consequently, as part of the European Capital of Culture celebrations, the historic Lee Swim was re-launched two years later. Prior to the 2005 re-launch, the last Lee Swim was in 1987.

The route saw participants take the plunge into the Lee’s north channel near the Old Distillery Yard at the end of the North Mall. After the 4pm start on Saturday, they swam 1,700m downstream towards the Harbour Commissioners’ then turned back and swam the final 300m to the finish near Lapps Quay.

Among the participants was open water swimmer Steve Redmond who two years ago became the first man to swim a channel in all seven oceans.

Steve completed the gruelling Oceans Seven Challenge in July of 2012. This involved swimming the English Channel, North Channel (Northern Ireland to Scotland), Strait of Gibraltar, Catalina Channel (California), Cook Strait (New Zealand), Molokai Channel (Hawaii), and the Tsugaru Channel, Japan.

The overall winner of the event was Adrian Cosgrove of the Ennis Masters Swim Club. The designated charity for 2014 was the Samaritans.

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