Sunday 24 February 2019

Taking the plunge for St Stephen's Day Fin Swim

Noel Hayes, Dave Carey and Maurice Carroll who between them have taken part in 110 St Stephen’s Day Fin Swims
Noel Hayes, Dave Carey and Maurice Carroll who between them have taken part in 110 St Stephen’s Day Fin Swims
Participants and helpers getting ready for the Blackwater Sub Aqua Club’s annual St Stephen’s Day fundraising Fin Swim from Castlehyde to Fermoy
Vivienne Carr, Liam Lyons and Grace Carr were on hand to greet Billy Carr on his arrival to Fermoy Rowing Club

Bill Browne

While most of us were still recovering from the Christmas Day excesses, a bunch of intrepid swimmers were up bright and early on St Stephen's Day to brave the chilly waters of the River Blackwater.

Almost 25 members of the Blackwater Sub Aqua Club (SAC) and guests took part in the club's traditional Fin Swim, an event that has been held every year for more than three decades, with proceeds once again going to help fund the running of their dedicated search and rescue unit. 

After meeting at Fermoy Rowing Club, participants were ferried out to the starting point at Michael Flatley's Castlehyde Estate. 

With water temperatures of about six degrees - positively balmy compared to previous years - in moderately flowing current, divers followed the meandering river back to the Rowing Club on Ashe Quay. 

As always, Olan O'Farrell and Kenneth Barry manned the safety boats in case any of the swimmers got into any difficulty. Thankfully they were not needed, with Noel Hayes covering the course in 35 minutes, while the remaining 22 participants all got safely home within 50 minutes of setting off. 

All of the swimmers were greeted at the finish line by a crowd of enthusiastic well-wishers, followed by a cup of something hot to warm up chilled bones. 

The club's search and rescue officer, Dave Carey, said he was once again delighted with the large turnout for the event.

"It is always well supported, and we thank all those who took part and helped organise the swim and all those who turned up to support it on the day," he said. 

Club secretary Kenneth Barry said the Fin Swim also serves as an annual fitness test for divers, and anyone who missed the event will need to complete a fitness swim over the coming weeks to retain their active diver status. 

"As we look towards 2019, the club and the Blackwater Search and Rescue Unit would like to thank all our supporters for their continued support and wish you all a peaceful and prosperous new year," Mr Barry added.