|Lorna Farren in action Liffey Swim|
Swimming is one thing, swimming down the Liffey river in Dublin along with 400 other people is quite another. The 95th outing takes place in just over a month.
Lorna Farren (Twitter: @lfarren36) is one of about 150 women racing this year, and she shares with us here why she does it:
I’m often asked if I’ll be getting a tetanus shot (no) and how filthy the water is (not very- it’s mostly salt water), so I’d like to explain why this swim is a highlight of my year.
I’ve spent the last few months training – qualification is through open water events of at least one mile (1.6km) for Irish swimmers. This is the 25th consecutive year women can take part in the 2.2km race.
The Liffey Swim is unique in Europe, as the only swimming race directly though a capital city. It started in 1920 (men only), the brainchild of a city engineer who wanted to illustrate the cleanliness of Dublin’s waterways.
It took 70 years for a women’s race to become a permanent fixture. The delay is well explained by Cyril J Smyth of TCD here, and illustrates Irish culture of the time. Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid felt women should not compete in mixed sports as it was “unbecoming for them to display themselves before public gaze.”
Given the power of the Catholic Church in Ireland at the time, it is unsurprising women were not to be found swimming through the centre of the city where they could be seen in their swimwear.
And this is why I especially love this race:
- Open water swimming is nothing short of life affirming. As the cold water hits you, you feel both powerful and inconsequential at the same time. You can’t stop the tide, but you can glide through the water.
- For the less accomplished swimmers like me who go at a slower pace, it’s your own sightseeing tour of the capital – starting at the Guinness Brewery, swimming under 13 of Dublin’s bridges while taking in the best of Dublin’s Georgian architecture.
- It’s about community. The swimming community participating will range in age from teens right through to pensioners; from channel swimmers to relative novices and the local community will turn out in force to cheer you on from each bridge. It’s all about participation and overseas entrants are welcome.
- The race is handicapped depending on your level of ability, with the fastest swimmers entering last. So it’s anyone’s race to win.