Lough Ree Orcas get lockdown boost…

‘You start off by going for a dip a couple of times a week to acclimatise and then you build up to longer swims. Everyone suffers together!’

While many clubs and organisations were left out in the cold by Covid-19 restrictions over the last two years, one local group has experienced something of a renaissance with an increasing number of members taking the plunge at locations such as Lanesboro and Portrun.

  Established in 2018 in Lanesboro, Lough Ree Orcas is an open water swimming group which experienced a surge in numbers during the lockdowns and now has up to 150 swimmers participating in events.

  Cork native, Ger Moore, who established the group with Dubliner Colm Daly, explained how they first immersed themselves in the sport.

  “When we started out it was just the two of us. We met through Lanesboro Tri Club but the swimming was our main passion,” Ger said.

  “It really took off during the restrictions and we have a proper club now and there are up to 150 people on our WhatsApp group, and we take part in competitions across the country such as the Eastern Bay Invitational Ice Mile event, which was held in Clontarf recently”.

   While even the idea of open water swimming in wintry conditions sends shivers down most spines, Ger says there are numerous benefits to the discipline.

  “It’s great for mental health. Cold water swimming is about the here and now. It’s about being present in the moment,” he said.

  “We established the group to provide a safe environment and so that no one would be swimming alone. You start off by going for a dip a couple of times a week to acclimatise and then you build up to longer swims. Everyone suffers together!

  “You’re shivering a bit when you get out first but then the endorphins kick in and you’re buzzing for the rest of the day”.

  The Lough Ree Orcas cater for all different levels and abilities and members range in age from 14 up to 70. Founding member Colm Daly is 69 and still competing in Ice Mile Challenges and other events across the country.

  “There are members who are out almost every afternoon and then we have group swims on Saturdays and Sundays at 10.30 am and 11.30 am in Lanesboro and Portrun. We have regular swims from Gailey Bay to Portrun and from Lanesboro to Tarmonbarry too. We also host fundraisers for the local sub aqua group,” Ger says.

  “There’s every level from those who swim at international events to those who get in for a dip wearing bobble hats. We regularly swim with a group who went off to Poland to take part in the Ice Swimming World Championships recently. Maybe we’ll go over next year but for now we’ll keep training!”

  For those who are brave enough, the Lough Ree Orcas are always on the lookout for new members. Contact Ger and Colm on  HYPERLINK “mailto:loughreeorcas@gmail.com” loughreeorcas@gmail.com to find out more.