Picture gallery: Open water swimmers eager to return to the sea

Picture gallery: Open water swimmers eager to return to the sea
The Myrtleville Swimmers Dawn Swim in April 2018. Picture: Siobhán Russell

THE Open Water season would ordinarily be in full swing at this time, but these are not ordinary times.

The Covid-19 lockdown and 5k travel restrictions, together with the 2m social distancing guidelines have meant that our beaches have been closed, until this week. 

These photos from Siobhan Russell will remind everyone of the joy that awaits when the action returns fully.

Sunrise over Church Bay and Roches Point. Picture: Siobhán Russell
Sunrise over Church Bay and Roches Point. Picture: Siobhán Russell

While daily exercise is allowed, the Government recommended that exercise was not advised, on or in the sea.

That request also applied to those living within the travel restrictions of beaches, as if they swam their actions could impact on volunteer RNLI and/or other emergency services.

HSE guidelines state that “adherence to current recommended disinfection practice is sufficient to inactivate Covid-19 virus in chlorinated drinking water and swimming pools.”

The January Sunrise Swim to Fennell's Bay, with Maeve McDonagh. Picture: Siobhán Russell
The January Sunrise Swim to Fennell's Bay, with Maeve McDonagh. Picture: Siobhán Russell

However, adherence to social distancing regulations is what will pose problems, when the time to return to pools is permitted. There are no equivalent guidelines for Open Water swimming.

Updates on the safety of swimming in treated water stand in stark contrast to the lack of clarity on Open Water.

Swim Ireland have therefore, requested some guidance from the HSE for the Open Water community, to enable suitable protocols, be put in place for a safe return.

Swim Ireland cancelled all Open Water races under its jurisdiction until the end of July with a review, if, Government restrictions were relaxed.

The initial relaxation came with the Taoiseach’s confirmation that Phase 1 on the easing of restrictions would commence on Monday.

As a result, people may now engage in outdoor sporting and fitness activities on an individual basis or in small groups of four maximum.

There should be no physical contact and social distancing of two metres must be adhered to.

Swim Ireland issued a framework on the return to Open Water swimming and have advised that unless you are an experienced Open Water swimmer, you should not be entering the water at this time.

The Centra Crosshaven Triathlon last year.
The Centra Crosshaven Triathlon last year.

Experienced Open Water swimmers should also consider all the risks to themselves, safety personnel and, if anything were to go wrong, the burden they would place on the Health Service.

If you are not an experienced Open Water swimmer, now is not the time to consider starting.

It is important to note that there are no lifeguards on the beaches, and many Open Water swimming areas remain closed off, to prevent large gatherings.

The Gardaí will patrol the beaches to ensure compliance with HSE & Government guidelines.

Sunrise over Myrtleville. Picture: Siobhán Russell
Sunrise over Myrtleville. Picture: Siobhán Russell

If you are among those who may now return to Open Water swimming, enjoy your return but please comply with all guidelines to ensure a safe return for everyone in the near future.

Meanwhile, those outside the 5k travel restriction, all that can be done for the moment is dream of a return to the water, with discussions focused on exit strategies beyond the lockdown.

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