Shannonside swim: Joseph Mooney, UL HPL Swimmer taking part in the Thomond Swim last year. This season's race takes place on Saturday at 3.15pm
THE annual Thomond Swim returns to Limerick this weekend and more than 100 brave competitors are preparing to dive into the River Shannon on Saturday.
Limerick Masters Swimming Club are once again hosting the annual Thomond Swim with the course starting at the slipway at St Michael’s Rowing Club at 3.15pm.
Swimmers will then proceed upriver to a turning buoy above the Curragower Falls near Thomond Bridge, along the walls of King John’s Castle, back under Sarsfield Bridge along by Shannon Rowing Club and finishing back at St Michael’s Rowing Club.
The swim has an overall distance of 1,800m making it a challenging event in the country’s largest estuary.
The swim is a designated qualifying race for the prestigious Liffey and Dun Laoghaire Harbour swims in Dublin thus creating a greater interest among open water swimmers from around the country.
Harry Harbison from Limerick Masters Swimming Club said: “With the ever increasing popularity of open water swimming in excess of 100 competitors are expected to compete in the Thomond Swim this year and with the afternoon start time suiting competitors from further afield are planning on competing.
"In addition to those from along the east coast, Limerick Masters will also be welcoming participants from Cork and Galway and the many clubs throughout the mid-west.”
The Thomond Swim first took place in the early 1950s at a time when there was no indoor swimming pool in the city and only a summer swimming season.
The course at that time started at St Michael’s Rowing club and proceeded up the Abbey River to finish at Athlunkard Boat Club.
The event was organised by the members of Thomond Swimming Club. Members from that time included Gerry Ryan, and former Mayor of Limerick Frank Prendergast.
The Blue Star Water Polo Club was also represented by well-known characters such as Ireland and Lions rugby player, Gordon Wood, former Minister for Education Donogh O’Malley, Olympic rower Paddy McMahon.
In the early years it was very much a Limerick event with up to 30 competitors taking part, however the Thomond Swim was cancelled in the early 1990s due to the deteriorating quality of water in the river.
Details of the event can be found on the Limerick Masters website at limerickmasters.com.
The best viewing points for the event will be on Sarsfield Bridge, along Clancy Strand and along O’Callaghan Strand near the start/finish.
For more see www.limerickleader.ie.