Speedos, yellow hats and little else as Liffey swimmers dive in
Jovial spirits as competitors in annual event take the plunge underneath Butt Bridge
James Scallon passing the Custom House during the Dublin City Liffey Swim .Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times
Plunging in for the 94th Dublin City Liffey Swim.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times
Finishing the 94th Dublin City Liffey Swim. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times
Showers after the Liffey Swim. .Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill /The Irish Times
Danika Sugrue (left) and Rachel Nevins after the 94th Dublin City Liffey Swim supported by Dublin City Council and staged by The Open Sea Committee at the weekend. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times
Clad in speedos, yellow swimming hats and little else the first competitors dived in into this year’s Liffey Swim with fervour after Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn blew the starting whistle.
Although now in it’s 94th year enthusiasm for the event doesn’t seem to have waned in the slightest, the grey clouds above didn’t reflect the jovial spirits below.
Family members cheered and snapped photos as their loved ones - 219 men and 116 women - queued up to take the plunge underneath Butt Bridge outside Tara Street station.
Some 26 minutes after doing so Ciarán O’Driscoll from Half Moon Swimming Club in Dublin crossed the finish line to win the men’s event.
A short while later Gina Murphy from Glenalbyn Masters in Stillorgan secured the women’s title with a time of just over 32 minutes.
The victors collected their trophies and Jack B Yeats prints, of his award-winning painting The Liffey Swim, from Mr Quinn who said the pair have now been added to the historical list of previous winners.
In a tribute to the event’s heritage the oldest living winner, Anthony Kennett, was on hand to greet this year’s competitors as they finished up at the East-Link Toll Bridge in front of the 02.
To mark the 70th anniversary of Mr Kennett’s victory Mr Quinn presented him with a special commemorative medal.
Mr Quinn told The Irish Times the event takes advantage of one of Dublin’s “natural assets” and that it was great to see such a wide range of ages competing together.
“There was a great turn out, you had competitors who were in their seventies and then kids who were twelve and thirteen,” he said. “It’s a great day for people to come into the city centre”.
Mr Quinn added that he was “tempted” to give the 1,600 metre race a go himself but couldn’t because of another engagement, tomorrow’s Dublin City triathlon. “Maybe next year I’ll focus on the Liffey Swim,” he said.
While the Mayor has yet to get his feet wet on this one, others there had been doing it for more than a decade.
Rachel Doyle, from Phoenix Swimming Club in Clondalkin, completed the challenge for the 14th time saying it was “great craic”. “This was definitely an interesting swim this year,” said Ms Doyle, who first took part in the event when she was eleven.
Met Éireann said the sea temperature in Dublin bay was a balmy 16 degrees, but may have been slightly cooler in the river. Although there was a chilly breeze it was certainly no day for wetsuits.
“It wasn’t cold at all,” said Patrick Corkery from NAC Masters swimming club. “Back in February I did an ice swim up in Lough Dan in the snow”.
On that day he swam a mile without a wetsuit in 3.5 degree water. “Something like today is a cake walk,” he added.
Not doubt he and the other competitors will be back in 2014 for the only day of the year when it’s socially acceptable to stroll the streets of our nation’s capital in a pair of speedos.