Brave Irish swimmers taking on tough Spanish challenge

Seventeen Irish swimmers this weekend tackle one of the most challenging open water challenges in Europe.

Only 24 competitors have managed to complete the 22.8km route between Illes Formigues and Illes Medes on the Spanish Costa Brava, and now some of Ireland’s most experienced open water swimmers are hoping to join that select group.

Well-known Cork swim coach, Eilis Burns, is among the Irish contingent swimming in the event. “This is my first big swim, I’m usually coaching so there’s a bit of banter about that,” she said. Burns admits that the last time she swam such a distance in open water was in the Cork to Cobh swim when she was just 13.

Many of the Irish swimmers going to Spain are coached by Burns and have completed some of the toughest open water swims in the world.

Among the group is International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame member, Ned Denison. Denison completed the “triple crown” of open water swimming in 2012 — English Channel, Catalina and Manhattan.

Burns and the rest of the group are checking the forecast regularly as windy conditions could cause the swim to be cancelled or postponed.

She said: “We’re hoping it will run on Saturday so we can party that night after a such a long season.”

The event organisers have advised all the participants to bring wetsuits but the hardy Irish swimmers have declined this advice, with the exception of Burns and Angela Harris.

A few of the group completed a 1km Ice swim (water temperature below 5C) earlier this year, including Denison who set a world record for the 55-59 age group. The majority of the group are members of the Sandycove Island Swim Club, and will fly to Barcelona tomorrow morning before catching a bus to Girona.

Indeed there will be an extremely fit Irish contingent heading to Spain tomorrow as a group of triathletes are heading to Barcelona to compete in an Ironman event in and around the city.


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