Sandycove Isand in Kinsale, County Cork, has been Ireland’s most productive and inspiring marathon swimming location since 2005. Prior to 2005 there were only 13 marathon swims recorded by County Cork swimmers: River Lee 1973 to County Hall, 1987 Blackrock to Cobh plus 1999-2003 three swims across Clew Bay.
In 2004 fourteen Sandycove Island swimmers signed up for English Channel (EC) solos and two-way relays. They were all successful and the local marathon swimming craze took hold.
From 2005 to 2012 an annual marathon dinner was held – drawing EC soloers from around Ireland. It helped set the stage for the annual ILDSA awards event. In 2013 the Global Open Water Swimming Conference and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF) Induction/Awards Dinner was held in Cork. It was the most successful ever IMSHOF event and the organisers were awarded the Poseidon Award by the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
2018 saw the tenth year of the Cork Distance Week. This attracts more than 80 proven and aspiring marathoners from around the world for 9 days of intensive training. For the past few years this is combined with The Triple Crown dinner – with 93 attendees honouring this rare accomplishment – with many being further inspired.
The number of swimmers (as of 2018) from around the world who have completed a lap of Sandycove Island: 153 EC soloers, 32 Triple Crowners, 11 IMSHOF Honorees and 3 Oceans Seven (of 9 globally).
Sandycove Island swimmers have completed 104 solos on 20 km and above: 73 in salt water including 19 one-way English Channel solos and 21 in fresh water. The list above does not include the solos between 10 km and 20 km and many relays. The Sandycove Swimmers have travelled the global and put marathon swimming in Ireland on the map!
The organisation of the Sandycove Island swimmers is complex and loose. The Sandycove Island Swim Club provides some structure but swimmers from local masters clubs as well as swimmers from the rest of Ireland and abroad are welcome. Our members are the leading organisers, record keepers, swim gear producers (example free “Cork Marathon Swimmer” caps) and have assisted groups in Myrtleville and Lough Ine without rancour.
The records now show 149 marathon swimmers from County Cork: 36 completed 25 km and above, 55 completed 10 miles to 25 km and 149 completed 10 km to 10 miles. This explosion and success has been led by the Sandycove Island swimmers who complete marathons regularly, inspire and help.
Finally, many of the swimmers raised money for local charities during their marathon swims.