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Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

Swim Ireland issue appeal over open water swimming this weekend


by Jennifer McShane
21st Nov 2020
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Swim Ireland has issued safety alerts on all its social media channels amid calls for open water swimmers to keep safe if they are swimming this weekend


Swim Ireland and the RNLI have warned of the challenges involved with open water swimming greatly intensify at this time of year, with falling water temperatures, fading light, stormy weather and stronger tidal conditions.

“Dipping this weekend? Always check the weather and understand the local effects of wind, tides and currents. That’s the message from the RNLI &  The Irish Coast Guard who have seen alarming increases in call-outs to help swimmers this month,” they said. They are urging people to take precautions, care and check weather forecasts before setting out. They also advise to ask seasoned swimmers for help if you are unsure.

They are advising people to take the following precautions before going out:

  • Always check the weather forecast and understand the local effects of wind, tides and currents.
  • Never swim alone and have somebody ashore who is familiar with your plans and ideally can observe your progress.
  • Only swim in sheltered areas with which you are familiar and swim parallel to the shore.
  • Ensure that you are visible from the shore. Wear a brightly coloured swim cap or use a tow float to increase your visibility in the water.
  • Wearing a wetsuit is advisable to help stay warm.
  • Slowly acclimatise to cold water to reduce the risk of cold water shock.
  • Get warmed up afterwards. Wrap up well in extra layers of clothing
  • If in doubt, don’t go out!
  • Tell someone else where you’re going and when you are due back.

If you see somebody in trouble or think they are in trouble dial 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.

Christmas Day Swim guidelines

Water Safety Ireland (WSI) has also issued the following guidelines for those planning a festive dip in the sea this December:

1. If you’re organising a charity swim, make sure to give the details to your local Coast Guard unit and gardaí first.

2. Appoint a ‘safety officer’ to oversee the event, and who will have the ultimate responsibility for deciding if the swim can go ahead.

3. Don’t take a chance on running the swim if the weather deteriorates — defer it to a different day.

4. It is a fallacy that alcohol will keep you warm when entering the water; in fact it has the reverse effect and could well kill you. IWS says it “strongly recommends that no alcohol be taken either before the swim or after the swim”.

5. “Make sure you have safe access and exit points from the water”… In other words, don’t thoughtlessly throw yourself into the sea without a plan for how to get out!

6. And the final word of advice: “Swimmers’ remaining in the water for extended periods in a gesture of bravado is not acceptable. The message is ‘Get In, Get Out and Warm Up’.”

  • Check conditions – including water temperature – before heading to the coast.
  • Wear a wetsuit of appropriate thickness for the amount of time you plan to spend in the water and the type of activity you’re doing, if entering.
  • Wear a flotation device. It greatly increases your chances of making it through the initial shock.

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