Thursday 20 June 2019

Annual Liffey swim a splash hit for hundreds

Rachel Lee, winner of the women’s 95th Dublin Liffey swim, with her mother, Marian Lee, after the race. Photo: Fergal Phillips.
Rachel Lee, winner of the women’s 95th Dublin Liffey swim, with her mother, Marian Lee, after the race. Photo: Fergal Phillips.

Brian Byrne

An incredible 368 people made the most of mild early autumn conditions as they took to Dublin's River Liffey for the 95th annual Liffey Swim on Saturday.

Malahide native Ger Wilkes proved fastest of the 257 men over the 2.2km course to win the coveted Irish Independent Cup.

And despite warm temperatures in and out of the water, he described swimming the course - which began at Watling Street Bridge near the Guinness Brewery and finished at Custom House Quay - as like "going through a big dark hole".

He said: "When I was going in there, I thought I was actually swimming backwards. The flow was really strong. And it's dark. It's like going through a big dark hole.

"The hardest bit is thinking people are going to come up behind you. But I knew I was in the lead from about the Ha'penny Bridge, so it was only a matter of hanging on then.

"I knew I had a chance. I went off really hard. I was catching a lot of people very early. I put a lot of training in throughout the year. This was my aim, to win this."

Meanwhile, Rachel Lee, a paramedic with Dublin Fire Brigade, was fastest out of 111 in the women's race and took home the Ladies Challenge Cup.

The historic race took in some of the capital's best known bridges, including the James Joyce Bridge, the Ha'penny Bridge, O'Connell Bridge and the new Rosie Hackett Bridge.

Both races finished at Loopline Bridge around 30 minutes after their respective starts. Organised by Leinster Open Sea Committee and supported by Dublin City Council, the race was opened by Lord Mayor Christy Burke.

He said: "The Liffey swim is a wonderful part of the city's sporting and social history.

"I would like to congratulate the swimmers who have qualified to take part in the 95th Liffey Swim."

The swim is considered the highlight of 26 open water races during the summer months, of which competitors must complete at least four to qualify.

Irish Independent

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