Are you part of the open water swimming community that flock to the frigid waters on a daily basis? Then perhaps 2019 is the year you step it up a notch and sign up for an open water swimming race.

Make this the year you join the hardy souls who shun wetsuits to swim in open water day in, day out all year round and take to the start line of one of the many, many open water races around the country. They really are one of the best communities in the Irish outdoor scene. If you’re convinced and ready to see what the options out there are, then have a look below at some of our favourite open water swimming races in 2019.

1. Lough Key Forest Park Swim, Co Roscommon

Date: 15 June 2019

Open water swimming events
Image: Mark Kelly

This a tree-lined lake with a castle slapped in the middle of it is a stunning setting for a swim. The Lough Key swim offers a 750m and a 1.5km option for participants. The ‘Castle Island’ gets lapped on the 1.5km course while the 750m swimmers simply pass it. If you are feeling fit you can even swim both the distances on the day for the one entry!

More info: Open Water Swimmer

2. The Aura Boyne Swim, Co Louth

Date: 15 June 2019

Open water swimming events
Image: Irish Maritime Festival

Do you have what it takes to battle the mighty Boyne? The newly named Aura Boyne Swim will return in 2019. Swimmers turn out in their droves to Drogheda, Co Louth every year to take on the 2.7km course. The swim which always guarantees a great atmosphere is organised by Drogheda Triathlon Club.

More info: The Boyne Swim

3. Vibes and Scribes Lee Swim, Co Cork.

Date: 13 July 2019

Open Water Swimming events
Image: Vibes and Scribes Lee Swim

This point-to-point swimming race through the centre of Cork City that is not to be missed. It is a fun event with a competitive element, with age group prizes and five historic trophies up for grabs. There are separate categories for wetsuit and non-wetsuit swimmers. The 2km swim comprises a downstream section of 1.7km in the North Channel of the Lee and a short upstream section of  300m in the South Channel. This is the one to do if you want to hang around after for a party.

More info: Lee Swim

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4. Liffey Swim, Co Dublin

Date: 3 Aug 2019

Open water swimming events
Image: Dublin City Council

This is the oldest and one of the most prestigious open water races in Ireland. The 2.2km event will see participants race from Rory O’Moore Bridge to the Custom House. This is the only swim of its kind to take place in a European capital city. Often compared to the Grand National, every swimmer has a chance of winning the Liffey swim because of the handicap system. Competitors from as young as 13 pit their strengths against 70-year-olds and swimmers come from all over the country and abroad. You must qualify for this event by participating in a number of open water swim races.

More info: Leinster Open Sea

5. Lough Dan Swim Race, Co Wicklow

Date: 31 Aug 2019

Open water swimming races
Image: Andre Ray

The Lough Dan swimming race offers participants the choice of a 2.5km, 5km or 10km route. The race course is a straight line in a south-to-north direction. The 5km race is two laps, while the 10km race is four laps. Remember when signing up that Lough Dan is a mountain lake so water visibility is low and water temperatures are really low, so don’t forget to pack that robey.

More info: Leinster Open Sea

6. Dun Laoghaire Harbour Race, Co Dublin

Date: 7 Sept 2019

Open water swimming events
Image: Leinster Open Sea Swimming

The second most prestigious swim on the calendar and also Ireland’s second oldest swim is the Dun Laoghaire Harbour race. The course consists of a 2.2km lap of the entire harbour. The best part of the race is the crowds of spectators who line the piers to cheer on the swimmers. This race is handicapped like the Liffey Swim to give all abilities a fair chance at a medal. In 2019, the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Race will celebrate its 89th year.

More info: Dun Laoghaire Harbour Race

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7. Glendalough National Park Swim, Co Wicklow

Date: 7-8 Sept 2019

Open water swimming events
Image: Global Swim Series

If you’ve climbed the Spinc in Glendalough on many an occasion like us, you may have gazed at the lake longingly once or twice and wondered what it would be like to swim in its depths. If that sounds like you, then this is the race for you. Swimmers can choose from a 750m and 1.5km Olympic course on the weekend’s Saturday and, on the Sunday, the really tough nuts come out for the 3.9km iron distance event.

More info: Open Water Swimmer

8. The Great Fjord Swim, Connemara

Date: 12 Oct 2019

Open water swimming races
Image: Killary Gaelforce

This open water swim is one of the best water-based events on the calendar. Taking place in the deep waters of Killary Fjord surrounded by the mountains of Mayo and Connemara, the event offers three distances – 3.9km, 2km, and 750m – and competitors in the longer events can choose to swim in togs or wetsuits (it’s wetsuits only for the 750m). Swimmers in the 2km and 750m are brought out into the middle of the fjord by boat and jump off it to start the race!

More info: Gaelforce

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By Heather Snelgar

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