Over 100 swimmers are set to take part in the Inch Mile Swim Challenge at Rathmullan on Saturday. And while entries are closed for the main event, there is still a limited number of places available in the Kinnegar 500-metre swim aimed primarily at those who are relatively new to open-water swimming.
Saturday’s swimming spectacle is being organised by the Gartan Open Water Swimmers, in conjunction with Donegal Sports Partnership and Swim Ireland.
Gartan Open Water Swimmers member, Karen Crawford, explained that the Inch Mile Swim Challenged sold out quickly this year.
“We have capped the entry to around 100 and it’s great to have this event back again. It was first held in 2019, but because of Covid we were unable to hold it for the last two years. There are still some places left in the Kinnegar 500. People can register online or they can turn up on the day,”
“The Inch Mile Swim Challenge is fairly unique in that the competitors board the ferry in Rathmullan and are taken as far as Inch before jumping off and swimming back to Rathmullan,”
“There’s huge interest in the event and it’s another great opportunity to promote the county of Donegal and the sport of swimming. There will be those who will be racing and others who are strong swimmers. The safety aspect is our main focus and we have great support in this regard. David McGloin has been a massive help to us and knows every inch of the water in Rathmullan. The key groups in our event management plan include Sheephaven Search and Recovery, Rathmullan Watersports School, Rathmullan Sailing and Watersports Club, Lough Swilly Ferry, Lough Swilly Ferry and the Donegal branch of the Irish Red Cross.”
Karen pointed out that the challenge has attracted people from all parts.
“We have swimmers coming from the UK, Northern Ireland and from all parts of Ireland. There’s also a father and son taking part who are using the event to prepare for the Europe to Asia Swim, the Hellespont, which is taking place at the end of August. The community of Rathmullan has really bought into the event and there will be a great buzz and plenty of excitement in the area at the weekend. Hopefully, the weather will be kind to us,” she added.
Karen is one of six Gartan Open Water Swimmer members and noted that the planning of the weekend event has been a team effort.
“Every member has worked hard and done their bit to help bring the Inch Mile Swim together. So, thanks to Keith McClean, Mark Loughridge, Paddy Bond Snr, Mark McCollum and Dan Ruddy for their commitment. We’re also grateful to our sponsors for their generous support – MOWI, Donegal Oil, Crossan Haulage, Joe McDaid Accountants and the Bonnar Group.”
Registrations will open on Saturday at 9 am at the Rathmullan Sailing and Watersports Club. The briefing for the Kinnegar 500 is scheduled for 10.45 am, with the swim starting at 11 am. Participants in the Inch Mile will board the Lough Swilly Ferry at 12 noon for the 12.20 departure. The swimmers will hit the water around 12.30 am and the lead competitors are expected back in Rathmullan around 1 pm.
Wishing all involved with the swims well, Donegal Sports Partnership’s Community Development Officer, Karen Guthrie, said the decision to add a second swim over 500 metres was an extremely positive development.
“For us, the purchase and placement of swim buoys in the water at Rathmullan is an investment in the sport of open water swimming and it’s also an investment in the future of swimming locally,” she added.
“Donegal Sports Partnership has been rolling out the beach to buoy open water swim programmes, with the help of Mary Dunne of Swim Ireland, across four community sites in Donegal – Gartan Lake, Rathmullan Beach, Maghery Beach, and Fintra Beach. The programme targets people who are new to open water, and aims to enhance their skills and confidence in the sea. We’re extremely fortunate to have quality instructors at each site. Instructors Karen Crawford and Paddy Bond Snr, have been integral to the delivery of programmes in Gartan and Rathmullan, and it’s brilliant to have a flagship event like the Kinnegar 500 for those partaking to work towards,” the Community Development Officer commented.