Safety first for organisers of stunning Great Fjord Swim in Connemara

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By Eileesh Buckley

Killary Gaelforce, organisers of the Great Fjord Swim, have made tow-floats mandatory for all race distances in this year’s competition.

Race Director Mona Purcell said “this is something we were strongly considering bringing in and then with the recent tragedy at a triathlon in the UK we were fully convinced of the need to do so. This is already being done for open water swimming events in the UK and we feel it is the next step in safety for competitors swimming in the open water in Ireland.”

A competitor at his first triathlon disappeared during the swim leg of a race in August, his body was later recovered from the lake in Kent.

The safety measure of a tow-float makes swimmers more visible to the event safety team. A tow float is a bright orange inflatable airbag with a leash and strap which is secured around a swimmer’s waist. It floats behind the swimmer making them more visible to other water users.

The organisers are offering entrants the option to buy or rent a tow float for the race if they do not already have one.

2015 is the 4th year of the Great Fjord Swim, an event that sees over 400 people brave the October water temperatures, some without even a wetsuit to keep them warm.

Entrants in the 750m swim are required to wear a wetsuit, whereas experienced open water swimmers are allowed a choice in the 2km or 3.9km races.

Picture: GaelForce

“We are very lucky to have the crystal clear, clean waters of the Atlantic ocean on our door-step, it’s a refreshing place to swim’ says Ms Purcell, “There are many other open water events taking place in Ireland opening up the sport to people around the country.

“The variety of distances allows people to build up to taking on something like the 2km or 3.9km event.”

This year sees the introduction of a 3.9km (full-Ironman distance) event with over 150 competitors due to take part in this distance.

The other distances remain as 2km and 750m with the added novelty of the swimmers being brought by boat to the start line on the Fjord and then jumping in to swim home.

The event website gives specific guidance to competitors in relation to expected water temperatures and recommendations for wetsuit usage.

Picture: GaelForce

The spectacular setting of Killary Fjord in Connemara makes this a unique event and attracts swimmers from all over Ireland and the UK. The Great Fjord Swim is a perfect season finale for triathletes and open water swimmers before the winter sets in.

For full event information check out the Gaelforce website.

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