Liffey Swim portraits: the men and women of the Dublin race’s 100th edition

Aged 15 to 78, swimmers at 2019 qualifying races

Swimmers at a recent Liffey Swim qualifying race. Photograph: John Ohle

Swimmers at a recent Liffey Swim qualifying race. Photograph: John Ohle

 

CLAIRE O’DWYER (78, Dublin SC) – 20+ Liffeys – “One year I had my shoulder operation done and I was told I wasn’t to swim so I had to swim the Liffey one-arm butterfly. That was fun.”

CLAIRE HUDSON (44, Wicklow SC) – 4 Liffeys – “My best memory of the Liffey was a year I wasn’t in it. My mother Anne won the Liffey in 1992, only the second year women could enter, so myself and my sister Jenny have always been very proud of that.”

KEITH BUTLER (Dublin SC) – 4 Liffeys – “I won a a gold for the 800 metres at the Special Olympics in Los Angeles in 2015. I was given an award after the Liffey, a silver coin, to mark my gold medal.”

EMILE BURKE -MURPHY (30, 1 Liffey) and HANNAH LOWRY- O’REILLY (30, 1 Liffey) – both Dublin SC – “It’s just surreal to be in the river. We’re both barristers and work down in the courts, we cross those bridges every day. That one day of the year, to be looking up at the Ha’penny Bridge, is just surreal.”

SIOBHÁN O’ROURKE (42, Tallaght Masters SC) – 2 Liffeys – “I used to go in and look at it and I always said I’d do it sometime so when I turned 40, I said that’s it, it’s time to do it. Last year was great, a brilliant day, and Dublin won the All-Ireland the next day to cap the weekend.”

MARK HANLEY (15, North Dublin SC) – 1 Liffey – “I liked swimming the Liffey last year because I beat Stevie, my coach.”

BRIAN NOLAN (49, 20+ Liffeys) and SEÁN NOLAN (22, 3 Liffeys) – both Clontarf SC – “My favourite memory is a year I didn’t even swim, running down the quays after Seán to see him finish in the top 10 and all the family around to enjoy it.”

AIDAN HICKEY (32, Phoenix Swimming Club) – 17 Liffeys – “My first one I had just completed the junior cert and I just remember how nervous I was... I had won a race at the Bull Wall that year, but for the Liffey Swim, my uncle and Da who were with me, they just had to calm me down.”

DAVID KEENAN (66, Phoenix SC) – 18 Liffeys – “The Liffey is the highlight, the grand prix of the season. You see the city in such an amazing way... You start to taste the saltwater at the Ha’penny Bridge, then see the old McBirney’s building near O’Connell Bridge, and you know you’re making good progress, that you’re nearly there.”

COURTNEY McDERMOTT (27, Glenalbyn SC) – First-timer – “This is my first full season of open water swimming and I’ve enjoyed it so much. It is so much different than pool swimming and staring at the black line. Every race is relative -- you can talk about the conditions with other swimmers even whenit’s flat calm. I watched last year, and there’s been so much talk I’m kust looking forward to doing it now”

PAUL DAWSON (52, Templeogue SC) – 6 Liffeys – “My father grew up in Chapelizod and learned to swim in the Liffey... In 2016, my brother Larry, who was a member of the club 30 years ago, came back from America and we swam it together. It’s a great tradition, it’s addictive.”

REBECCA TUITE (17, North Dublin) –1 Liffey – Last year’s swim was really enjoyable as me and my three teammates all did it together after swimming sea swims all summer.”

JENNIFER BOYLE (17, North Dublin) – “The best part about the swims and the Liffey in particular is doing it with my friends. I am very grateful and proud of myself for the best under-25 award I won last year and proud of my teammates’ accomplishments too.”

DONNCHA Ó SIADHAIL (6 Liffeys, 2015 winner) and JENNIFER GILBERT (2016 winner) – both Meath Masters – “What we do laugh at it is the year I won it the tide was against us and the year she won it , it was with us! Jennifer was just after having Darragh and there’s actually a picture of her after hopping out, sitting on one of the seats near the Customs House breastfeeding the child.”

PAUL BYRNE (Dublin) – 30+ Liffeys – The year I won I was actually just back from holidays. I had to run up the quays and was in a bit of a panic to be honest. When I got in front I still expected to be caught.”

PAUL FLYNN (Half Moon) – 15+ Liffeys, 2018 winner – "Winning was incredible, beyond anything I expected actually. It really was a magical day.”

MARTINA RING (49, Phoenix SC) – 4 Liffeys – “Every time you breathe you see the city from a different angle... In 2016 there were medals to commemorate the 1916 Rising and that was very special.”

BILLY HAHN (Aer Lingus Masters) – “My great grandfather and great great grandfather worked in the Custom House and so, from a nostalgic point of view, it would be very special to win there. The Liffey is the pinnacle of the season.”

EAMON HEALY (75, Guinness SC) – 30 + Liffeys.

NIAMH BERGIN (Clontarf SC)

GARRETT McDERMOTT (Glenalbyn SC)

DAVID CAMPBELL  (Garda SC)
BARRY MURPHY (NAC Masters)
CLODAGH NOLAN (Glenalbyn SC)
NIALL O'SULLIVAN (Dublin SC)
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