A record number of swimmers are set to take the plunge in the River Lee this weekend to help fund the development of a new service centre and treatment pool for children with physical disabilities.

About 510 people have signed up for the 12th annual Vibes & Scribes Lee Swim, which will be staged in association with Cork Lions Club, tomorrow.

With entries from Australia, Austria, England, Germany, Norway, Scotland, Switzerland, and the US, this year’s event has attracted the highest number of entrants since its relaunch in 2005.

Some 170 women and 340 men will dive into the river at 3pm at the Old Distillery on the North Mall to complete the 2km course. Up to 325 swimmers, or 64% of all participants, will swim in wetsuits — the highest number to date.

Enable Ireland Cork is the nominated charity with the funds raised being used to help it develop a new multi-million facility on the site of the former ESB social club in Curraheen, on the city’s western outskirts.

Enable Ireland provides a range of services to over 5,000 children and adults with physical, sensory, and intellectual disabilities. It provides specialist hydrotherapy at its 36-year-old treatment pool at the Lavanagh Centre in Ballintemple.

“Physiotherapy in this environment is highly effective. Also, having users suspended in water allows them to use their bodies in ways not possible if in a wheelchair or on the ground,” a spokesperson said.

Enable Ireland bought the former ESB facility about three years ago and lodged a planning application last November to build a new children’s service centre and swimming pool there.

If sanctioned, the new facility will include offices, meeting rooms, staff accommodation, conference facilities, treatment rooms, a pre-school, and associated ancillary accommodation. A planning decision is expected soon.

Since 2005, almost 5,000 Lee swimmers have raised over €70,000 for various charities. The event is now one of the most popular open water swimming events in the country.


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