Investment at Myrtleville key to the safety of Cork open water swimmers

Investment at Myrtleville key to the safety of Cork open water swimmers
Myrtleville Swimmers: Laurence Courtney, Angela Stubbs, Noreen Desmond, Maeve McDonagh, Lisa Lingwood & Celine Hyde, swimming around the new buoys at Myrtleville. Picture: Siobhán Russell.

OPEN water swimming has witnessed phenomenal growth in recent years.

Growing numbers swim on a daily basis, in all weather conditions, 12 months of the year.

The benefits are well documented, from health and wellbeing, mental health, fitness, and the sheer joy of being out in the vast openness of the ocean, surrounded by the beauty of our coastline.

Paramount to the continued success of open water swimming, is a commitment to swimmer safety at all times.

In 2019, a set of large, bright yellow swim distance markers were installed at Myrtleville, marking out a 1,350m circuit.

Siobhán Russell, Noreen Desmond, Maura Duffy and Bernard Kelleher, swimming to the Dutchman's Rock, Fennell's Bay. Picture: Siobhan Russell.
Siobhán Russell, Noreen Desmond, Maura Duffy and Bernard Kelleher, swimming to the Dutchman's Rock, Fennell's Bay. Picture: Siobhan Russell.

The project was part of a Healthy Ireland partnership with the HSE, Cork City Council, Port of Cork, and Irish Water Safety which enabled the local swim group to safely enjoy the swim circuit.

However, it soon became apparent that the power of the waves by the Dutchman Rocks required a stronger form of buoy.

After some research, spar buoys were identified as the most appropriate, especially since they are advertised as “almost indestructible” in surf.

They buoy is a one-piece design with a conical ballast end, which enables minimal resistance. It reduces the risk of failure and drag in surf conditions.

A concrete fill also allows for the spar buoy to be used in shallow water. They have industrial-strength shackles, chains, and ropes, and will hopefully withstand the storms which are an inevitable feature of our weather patterns. The buoys will be left in place 12 months of the year.

A fundraising campaign was initiated to cover the remaining cost of the buoys with regular Myrtlevillians stepping up to the mark. A community grant of €2k was also received from Cork County Council.

Susan Lawlor and Anne McCarthy. Picture: Siobhan Russell.
Susan Lawlor and Anne McCarthy. Picture: Siobhan Russell.

Great advice was received from the Port of Cork, who in turn advised mariners of the installation of the new buoys for the purpose of providing a safe and marked swimming route. Mariners are asked to keep a safe distance and to navigate carefully around the buoys. The Port of Cork also advised that jet skis are not permitted in the buoyed area.

The new buoys were originally scheduled to arrive in February, but delivery was delayed due to production postponement, as a result of Covid-19. There was great excitement when they finally arrived and were installed on July 13.

All swimmers were advised that the six new safety buoys were laid out specifically to encourage swimmers to follow the set route to keep them safe.

Breda Maguire and Jess Burke. Picture: Siobhan Russell.
Breda Maguire and Jess Burke. Picture: Siobhan Russell.

Swimmers were warned not to swim directly from buoy 4 at the Dutchman Rocks to buoy 6 at Bunnyconnellan. To do that would mean that swimmers would be out in an area where marine traffic could be passing at speed. The marine traffic may not expect to meet swimmers there, especially as they have been advised of the marked swimming route by the Port of Cork.

A lap of the six buoys is 1,350m. This includes a dog-leg from buoy 4 to 5 to 6. This route was planned to ensure swimmer safety.

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