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Open Water Swimming – Our Favourite Spots

The open water swimming season is in full swing, with both the weather and the water heating up, and there’s never been a better chance to take a dip in one of Dublin’s many open water spots. Free from lane ropes, tumble turns and chlorinated water, taking the plunge into open water can be incredibly rewarding for your physical and mental wellbeing.
Above photo: A leading Irish swimmer passing the Four Courts during the Liffey Swim.
(Image copyright Vanessa Shaw).

Below are five of our favourite locations in Dublin to dive into and to enjoy open water swimming:

1. Bull Wall, Clontarf.
Located a mere ten minute DART ride outside the city centre, Bull Wall is a prime location for both competent and beginner open water swimmers. Crossing the wooden bridge onto Bull Island- a historic manmade solution to silting in Dublin Bay, dating back to 1825- you’ll find a long stretch of open water on one side, and the sandy Dollymount Strand on the other. While some take to the strand to kitesurf, many others take a dip along the wall. The area is quite calm, with small waves licking the concrete steps and metal railings that guide you down into the water. Throughout the summer months, Bull Wall plays host to various Leinster Open Sea officiated races, however the location is popular amoung locals, and the occasional brave tourist, all year round.

2. Windsurfer’s Pier, Dún Laoghaire.
Windsurfer’s Pier is found between Dún Laoghaire and Seapoint, adjacent to the Salthill/Monkstown DART station. Similar to Bull Wall, this location is renowned for its calm, welcoming waters and is a popular venue for water sports such as paddle boarding. However, the conditions off the board are perfect for new and advanced open water swimmers alike. Alongside the occasional friendly seal, you’re likely to find an equally friendly member of Dublin Swimming Club, one of the oldest swimming clubs in the country. The club was founded in 1881, and runs both members open water swimming races and Leinster Open Sea races at Windsurfer’s Pier throughout the summer months.

3. High Rock, Portmarnock (photo above).
High Rock is located between Malahide and Portmarnock, in North County Dublin. As the name denotes, it is a rather large, raised rock located near the Martello Tower, and features a sturdy metal ladder leading down into the water. The currents in this location can be quite strong, so beginner open water swimmers may prefer to visit Low Rock, just past the mouth of Malahide Estuary, for slightly easier conditions and shallower water. Indeed, while conditions can be treacherous at times, the swim from High Rock over to Portmarnock Beach- often dubbed the Velvet Strand- is nothing short of phenomenal.

4. River Liffey, Dublin City Centre.
The annual Dublin Liffey Swim is run in late August/early September by the Leinster Open Sea Swimming Committee, and is now in its 96th year. A truly unique swim, it brings swimmers down the heart of Dublin city, from Watling Street Bridge to Custom House Quay. The Liffey Swim is the only one of its kind amongst its European counterparts, giving competitors an opportunity to view Dublin from an incredible vantage point. The swim began in 1920, in an attempt to demonstrate the good quality of the river water to the citizens of the city: a testament of the swim that remains today. Over 340 swimmers took part in last year’s 2.2km swim, racing past landmarks such as the Four Courts and the Ha’penny Bridge. In order to qualify for the race, swimmers of all ages and levels complete six of Leinster Open Sea Swimming Committee’s official races throughout the summer, and are joined on race day by hordes of international swimmers.

5. River Boyne, Drogheda, Co. Louth.
Technically speaking the Boyne Swim is located in Co. Louth, however the 2.7km race is without doubt worth the drive. The swim starts in Mell, west of Drogheda town centre, before travelling through Drogheda Port, and finishes south east of the famous Viaduct Bridge. Run as part of the Irish Maritime Festival, swimmers are encouraged to wear wetsuits, as the temperature can drop to a rather chilly 10 degrees celsius. The swim is in its infancy, with the inaugural race taking place in 2014, and attracted over 150 swimmers from all over the country. Since then, the Boyne Swim has continued to gain popularity, fast becoming one of the highlights of the open water swimming circuit for beginner and seasoned swimmers.

Remember: wherever it is you choose to venture out into open water, safety must always come first. Swim in pairs or small groups if possible, and be sure someone at home knows where it is you intend on swimming and the planned duration of your swim. Try to swim parallel to shore, and be aware of the currents and tides. This will ensure that while your swims may be a bit cold, they will be safe and enjoyable!

Keen to develop your swimming further? Join us for our Stoke Improver and Triathlon Swimming Coaching courses with Turner Swim Dublin at the Marker Hotel Dublin – join for international triathlete Manoela for a 5 x one hour package and see how far she can develop your technique for open water swimming.

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