Liffey Swim 2019: 'Never in a million years did we think he’d win it' - Dad of 15-year-old teen who won men's race
The father of a 15-year-old boy who came first place in the men's leg of the 100th Liffey Swim today has said "just can’t believe" the win.
Meath teen Mark Hanley managed to swim his way to victory despite balancing training with studying for his Junior Certificate exams.
“I missed my first few swims because of the Junior Cert, then I was away with the Irish team for the water polo but I still got my swims in on the weekends.
Mark, who is a member of North Dublin Waterpolo and Swimming Club, added that he is "very tried but very proud" of his win, and plans to spend the evening in bed catching up on some much needed rest.
Mark’s father, Barry said he “just can’t believe” his son’s success.
“Never in a million years did we think he’d win it. We thought he’d have a chance at winning the junior section, so for him to go and to win this is just incredible, especially ten minutes off,” he said.
“We swim Tuesday’s and Friday’s in Westwood, Clontarf Baths Monday’s and Thursday’s, so there’s a fair bit that goes into it.
“He just did his Junior Cert and it was kind of funny because you needed 12 swims to qualify and he missed some, he didn’t have them. So in the end he got a wildcard from the club but he missed the swims because he was doing the Junior Certs and he was training and away with the waterpolo in the UK. Thankfully the lads in the club stuck by him,” he added.
Claiming second place in the race was 61-year-old Billy Keogh, of Sandycove SC.
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Earlier this week, a burst of heavy rainfall in Dublin caused sewer debris to seep into the Liffey, prompting Dublin City Council (DCC) to test the water quality in the run-up to the landmark event.
The council said Irish Water was also made aware of an overflow or discharge of sewage from the sewer network. It said the discharge may have been active for some days before it was rectified but added that the utility company had told them the matter had been resolved.
"The results are exceptionally poor and significantly exceed the maximum permitted levels for designated bathing waters," a council spokesperson said. "Due to the fact the annual Liffey Swim is scheduled to take place, DCC has notified the HSE and the event organisers of these sample results.
"Unfortunately, it is not possible to get any more up-to-date samples taken and tested in advance of the event. The river Liffey is not a designated bathing water location".
Speaking about the quality of the Liffey water, Mark said: “It was grand, I actually think it was cleaner this year than last year. Less gunk on the top."
In a statement, Liffey Swim organisers said they were aware of the water quality concerns, but said further high tide overnight with dilute contaminants in the water.
"All involved know there are risks associated with sea swimming but we understand a lot of people are very excited about swimming tomorrow," they said.
"We urge all 650 swimmers to read the HSE advice and to make their own individual decision about participating in the race."