You too can join a club, get your picture taken in front of the Guinness gates with some strapping men (or women), and swim 2km down the Liffey. This writer (2nd from right, above) returned to swimming after more than 30 years in early 2016 at the age of 50. The first step was Swim Ireland's Swim-A-Mile programme in a pool, followed by the open water equivalent. Participation in open-water swimming is actively encouraged by Swim Ireland, and its current chief executive Sarah Keane, president Declan Harte, and chairman Peter Conway are regular participants on the Leinster Open Sea circuit.
By early summer, after joining Aer Lingus Masters, I was dipping my toes in the Irish Sea, joining club colleagues at Low Rock in Malahide, swimming the buoys, acclimatising and gaining confidence as I went. By June, I was swimming my first open-water race, and by September I had completed my first Liffey Swim.
Swimmers who want to compete in the Liffey Swim must have competed in at least six qualifying swims as part of the Leinster Open Sea calendar. Entrants living outside Leinster must complete four qualifying swims in their areas, and those from overseas have to show they are competent swimmers.