ON a balmy Saturday afternoon 13 intrepid open water swimmers began arriving for the annual 2k West Bay swim organised by the Irish Long Distance Swimming association (ILDSA).
After Registration and the mandatory safety briefing at 3.30pm the swimmers all got changed and reported back to the harbour slipway for the start of the race at 4pm.
As the swimmers slowly entered the 13 degree water a flotilla of Kayaks from the Causeway Coast Kayak Association lined up directly behind them ready to provide the usual top notch safety cover.
However, unbeknownst to the throng of spectators two of those safety kayakers were none other than Olympic Silver medallists Peter and Richard Chambers. (The Chamber’s brothers had been out for a “Leisurely paddle!!” around the north coast with other fellow kayakers and upon hearing of the swim immediately offered to help).
As the swim got underway South African born Natalie McClean immediately hit the front in the ladies race closely followed by excellent Portstewart swimmer Julie Murphy while Alison Cardwell and Gillian Armstrong attempted to reign in the frontrunners. (Gillian was badly stung by a jellyfish during the swim but to her credit didn’t give up and finished strongly!)
It was all going to form in the men’s race as Jon Glover sprinted into the lead with Robert Barry and Keith Campbell swimming “Stroke for stroke” about 30 seconds behind young Glover.
As the swimmers rounded the second buoy it was clear that it was going to take a mammoth effort from the chasing pack to catch both McClean and Glover in their respective races.
However, although McClean continued to dominate the ladies race winning it in a time of 23.27 it was clear that something was affecting Glovers “Line” in the men’s event as he veered dramatically off course giving the chasing pack a glimmer of hope.
It turned out that Glover’s goggles badly steamed up and thus he was “Swimming blind” and rather erratically for the last 10 or so minutes of the swim.
He did however do enough to win the race in a time of 24.28 with both Barry, Campbell and the impressive Jeff McCormick finishing strongly in their respective times of 25.45, 25.48 and 25.57.
After the swim the presentations took place outside behind the harbour office where the hardy swimmers were treated to hot tomato soup and an array of sandwiches.
Race organiser Jeff Wilson of the ILDSA then thanked the CCKA and the RNLI for their brilliant safety cover and the Yacht Club for the use of their changing facilities.
1st jon glover 24.28
2nd robert barry 25.45
3rd keith campbell 25.48
4th jeff mccormick 25.57
5th mark mccann 27.38
6th richard goddard 29.32
7th peter harty 30.44
8th john simpson 31.05
9th daron askin 37.10
1st natalie mcclean 23.27
2nd julie murphy 24.45
3rd alison cardwell 26.40
4th gillian armstrong 28.04