The normal signals for swimmers in distress apply, roll over on to your back and raise
your hand into the air. A kayaker will come to take you to the support boat or to the
shore. The procedure for receiving assistance from a kayak is as follows –
Remain calm. The kayaker will tell you to hold on to the front or rear of the boat. The
front is preferable, since they can keep an eye on you, but towing, using a line or
holding the back of the boat, is perfectly acceptable. Never grab the sides, you do not
want to tip the boat over!
Everybody will be wearing a wetsuit, so it is not possible to sink. *
Leave the beach and aim for the end of the pier. At the end of the pier the water gets a
little more “open”, this could mean slightly bigger waves and a breeze/wind on the water
once the shelter of the island is left behind.
The pier length is about 160m.
From this point on the swimmer needs to be sighting every four to six strokes. There
shouldn’t be much going on, current wise, between here and the end of the slag heap
so aim just to the right of this.
There can be a feeling of exposure here between the islands so keep the focus on the
first target i.e. the eastern end of the slag heap. (The slag heap is these days a civic
amenity park, with a tasteful limestone sea wall, but for Cobh natives, it’ll always be The
Slag Heap!)
As you pass this you have covered between 450m and 700m from the beach on Spike.
Once Haulbowline island begins to drift behind your left-hand side you should begin to
look for your exit.
You are now just over half way.
At this point it is enough to aim between the two spires, Cobh Museum/Scots Church on
the left and St. Coleman’s Cathedral on the right.
If conditions are perfect, you may make out the distinctive façade of the old Methodist
Church – “Pillars Night Club” and Carrig House (Council Offices) on the hill. Your target
is just right of these.
You are now entering the channel, where most of the swimming is to be done. You will
be able to see your exit, the slipway between the distinctive Old Cork Yacht Club
building and the DOD pier.
If we’ve had no rain, the surface ebb should be minimal, so the general flow of the
current is right to left, take this into account when sighting. If we are on time the current
should be slack enough. As you get within 150m of the DOD slip you may find yourself
having to swim harder to maintain your course. It is important to keep swimming here.
Don’t be tempted to stop for a look around and a rest since the current will move you
away from your course and you’ll have to battle harder get back on line.
If you do find yourself completely off target, try to get in as close to the shore as you can
and swim against the (weaker close to shore) current.
Try not to blindly follow other swimmers, they may not know where they are! Also try not
to follow kayaks/safety boats too blindly since they might be heading off to retrieve stray
swimmers, or just going to look at something interesting!

This can be a tough swim. The straight-line distance from the beach on Spike Island to
the DOD slipway at high water is 1500m, but on a given day you could find yourself
swimming anything up to 2000m! But if you remain aware of the conditions that you are
experiencing on the day and alter course accordingly then you’ll be fine. Don’t think too
far ahead, stay in the present!
Keep sighting! Keep swimming! Enjoy yourself!

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