The Irish Long Distance Swimming Association was formed in 1966 and held its first season of events the following year, both North and South of Ireland, at a time when open water swimming was generally and relatively unknown. From small beginnings the ILDSA over the decades has expanded greatly in size and stature and now has an International reputation. We are a club that is affiliated to Swim Ireland and the British Long Distance Swimming Association. ILDSA is known to all the Governing Bodies of swimming worldwide.
Any swimmer wishing to be part of ILDSA can therefore also take part in all the Swim Ireland OW swim calendar throughout the country. Any enquiries to the website.
The ILDSA, from a small number of events on its calendar in their first year, has now over 20 annually, ranging from the short “starter” swims to encourage newcomers into open water, to the Irish Championship, a distance of 17km, which is used by many people as a preparation for longer swims such as the English and North Channels. The sport has grown tremendously all over Ireland with events to suit all ages and abilities. The ILDSA also offers advice on swimming in cold water, training methods, encouragement and support.
For its promotion and services to open water swimming the ILDSA was admitted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in America in 1996 and received a special diploma for its work over many years. Two members of the Association have also been admitted to IMSHOF for their achievements.
Anne Marie Ward from Donegal became the 1st Irish swimmer to swim from Ireland to Scotland. This was Anne Marie’s 4th North Channel attempt and as a result of her perseverance and her determination Anne Marie was selected and awarded the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the year. Such an amazing accolade for any swimmer and the first time an Irish swimmer was awarded. Anne Marie travelled to New York in June where she presented her challenges and journey in the North Channel to a swimming audience at Columbia University. She was then honoured and awarded at the United Nations building to an audience including the International Marathon Swimming hall Of Fame.
In 2012 Steve Redmond from Ballydehob in Co Cork became the first swimmer in the world to the complete the notoriously difficult "Oceans 7" series of swims. (The North Channel, The Cook Strait, The Molokai Channel, The English Channel, The Catalina Channel, The Tsugaru Strait and the Strait of Gibraltar). For his efforts Steve was voted the World Open Water Swimming Man of the year in 2012
The North Channel is now recognised as one of the top seven toughest channels in the world.
Swimmers from all over the world have come to Ireland to take part in events here and Irish swimmers have taken part in International events in the UK, America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and South Africa competing favourable with the Worlds best.
Open water swimming has now grown and matured into one of the worlds leading sports and is now part of the Olympic Games. Our own Chris Byran, from Ennis is now competing at the highest level of the 10km and 5km open water world rankings.
The ILDSA has a strong and dedicated administration and support team, representatives in the four provinces, and good local organisers. The ILDSA will move into the future and continue to be a strong and influential body for open water swimming. We now look forward to celebrating our Golden Jubilee Anniversary in 2016 and we hope you will join us.
Billy Wallace, President, 2013.