Jelly fish and Rachel Hill photo by John Tierney

Jelly fish and Rachel Hill photo by John Tierney

Three Serpies at Cork Distance Week
Wed, 19 Jul 2017, Cork

Fishy stories jellyfish tails starry fish and a lot of swimming

If you’re thinking of attending the 2018 Cork Distance Week, just make sure you arrive prepared to swim for two hours twice daily, mostly in Irish Atlantic waters of temperatures around 11 to 15 Celsius. 

In nine days, you can swim over 100 kms, which Serpentine SC’s Phil Hodges managed. Dani Lobo also did some monster distances, while my total was a peaceful 81kms. The aim is that you train according to what you’re preparing to swim. There were a few other former Serpentine SC members also taking part, as well as some who knew our club well.

Yes, there were jellyfish, star fish, and swimmers who swam like fish. It’s all an essential part of the nine gruelling days. 

Ned Denison and Catherine Fravalo brilliantly organised the trek. Based out of Cork’s Sandycove SC, it is a haven for long distance open water swimmers. Ned and Catherine were superbly supported by the Mullally family, who were at the ready with very welcome home made fresh soup after virtually every swim. Thanks to Anne Marie, her Mum, and son Cathal ’Souperman’ Mullally who has just left school; this consistently pleasant young man really deserves to find a job this summer. Bronwyn Jeffers, home from Edinburgh, was our keeper of the keys.

Shepherding* 80 swimmers to differing venues proved easy for Ned, maybe his origins helped? At times you wondered how different it was from tending his goats which he keeps on Sandycove, the island which we swam around. Further investigation, revealed that Ned was raised in the famous goat herding mountains of Vermont, so no surprise really. I didn’t see it, but apparently at one stage, Ned whistled and the goats came down to the water’s edge of Sandycove island where he fed them seaweed by hand. The Greatest Of All Time indeed.

Two swims a day, at 8 or 9am for two hours, and again a swim in the afternoon or early evening. Everyone mucked in and did their bit of swimming and encouragement in a really friendly environment. Aprez-swim was also great fun. 
Swimmers hailed from Australia, the USA, towns 120 miles north of London, and all over Europe. There were many familiar faces, and included former Serpentine members and visitors to the Serpentine. One such was Barry O’Connor, who around Easter, had the grace to bring a bottle of whiskey as a gift to Serps. He couldn’t remember the name of the swimmer who he gave it to, but said his first name was Robin and he had a double barrelled surname. Does anyone know the Robin Jameson-Bushmills who swims at Serps? 

* The bit about Ned feeding goats was a wild thought which arose during my six hour swim as I made 11 laps of Sandycove island. Well, I had to think about something. If anyone could make goats eat seaweed by hand on a torture swim, then surely Ned's Yer Man.

Get to Sandycove, and Cork Distance Week, you'll love it.

Yours swimmingly

John Tierney


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