‘The water quality was fantastic’: Hundreds join Liffey Swim on new route

Organiser says change in direction upstream may continue after year hiatus due to pandemic

The annual Liffey Swim took place in Dublin on Saturday, with the race going upstream for the first time in its 102-year history.

One of the organisers Brian Nolan said it was such a success the event may continue in that direction in future.

As part of the change, route was cut from 2.2km to 1.6km. Mr Nolan said he now preferred the new route. “There’s more space and it’s a newer part of the city.

“And the water quality was fantastic. We had the old route for a century, maybe it’s time for a new one.”


The change this year, from the 3Arena to the Talbot Memorial Bridge, was dictated more by circumstance than choice.

The usual route for the swim is from the Rory O’Moore bridge at Watling Street, then under 14 other bridges to the Custom House. Normally it would take place during the first two weeks of September.

Due to the pandemic it was cancelled last year.

For the same reason “we didn’t get approval this year until October 5th and normally after that it takes six weeks to arrange closures of roads and bridges, and the water would be too cold in November. So we changed the route. It was quicker [to process the application] too,” said Mr Nolan.

On Saturday “the water was 13.8 degrees Celsius,” he noted.

Altogether 518 people took part. There was a handicap system with “the slowest swimmers going first, the others then at 15 second intervals, and the fastest going last,” he said. “This gives every swimmer an equal chance of winning, regardless of age or ability.”

Among those swimming in togs, David Wheelahan from Sandycove was the fastest man, in a time of 26 minutes 33 seconds, and Tara Slevin from Stillorgan was the female winner, in 30 minutes 41 seconds. Wet suit winners were Aidan Fennin (26 minutes 3 seconds) and Bettina Korn (27minutes 51seconds).

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times