IT’S a long way from the Thomond Swim to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, but Chris Byran was the fastest swimmer in the murky River Shannon at the weekend.
The Olympic hopeful who trains in the performance centre in the University of Limerick, was the fastest male in the handicapped race over the 1,800m course.
Darragh Fahy and Brian O’Dywer, also claimed the two other main spots, coming in times of 37:05 for Darragh, who was in a wetsuit, and a time of 37:06 for Brian, who was in ‘skins’, (i.e a swimsuit).
In the women’s race, Tara Smith came in first, in a time of 41:10, while Tori Hehir from Cork, wearing a wetsuit, came in in 44:24. The fastest woman overall was Shona Hickey, of the UL High Performance Centre, who had a time of 45.49.
“The race is handicapped to give everyone a chance of winning, and to encourage all to swim, there is a special category for those who feel the cold and wear wetsuits, which as well as keeping the body warm also gives extra buoyancy,” explained Dee Maguire, PRO of the Thomond Swim.
Hundreds of people turned out along the quays to watch the race, which kicked off at 6.30pm on Saturday.
It was pitched as the “cleanest river swim in the country”, but onlookers were bemused by the river’s sudden “chocolate” colour over the weekend.
Mr Maguire said the sudden change in colour was caused by the loosening of hardened ground upstream, and was essentially “clean muck” and said it was “absolutely not polluted”.
“No one complained either about a taste in the water.”