herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

CLASSIC

O'Dwyer bags liffey at last!A WELL-HANDICAPPED race makes for thrilling sport and so it proved at last Saturday's 91st Liffey Swim. With spectators -- including a large group of Germans on a school trip -- roaring swimmers on from the bridges and quays, the elite, who had been severely handicapped, had a mighty task if they were to catch those who had been set off early from Watling Street by handicapper Martin Monks.

With spectators -- including a large group of Germans on a school trip -- roaring swimmers on from the bridges and quays, the elite, who had been severely handicapped, had a mighty task if they were to catch those who had been set off early from Watling Street by handicapper Martin Monks.

Helping the slower swimmers was a high tide and a good flow of water.

By O'Connell Bridge, an orderly queue had become a mass of thrashing arms and legs, all seeking the best possible line into the darkness under the bridge.

Only in the final charge to the finish at Custom House Quay did the veteran Brian O'Dwyer from the Guinness club catch early leader Terry Joyce, finishing in 25 minutes 15 seconds. Joyce, of Eastern Bay, held on for second place ahead of Vinnie Nicoletti, another Guinness swimmer.

Behind them came 234 others, all of whom qualified for the 2.2km race by completing at least four events in the Leinster open sea swim calendar.

For O'Dwyer, victory in this swimming classic had been a long time coming.

He first competed in the Liffey Swim as a nipper in 1968 and has rarely missed an edition since then.

"It was a tough race but very enjoyable, especially since the water was very clear -- one of the best years," said 51-year-old O'Dwyer, who coaches the Irish junior water polo team. By the time the 114 women started, the water had calmed down.

Coming home first in 26 minutes and 32 seconds off a 45-second handicap was Deirdre Dunne, a 44-year-old mother of four from the St Vincent's club in Glasnevin.

Next were Maeve Dunne and Susan Ritchie of Tallaght Masters Club, both off "go".

Celebrating her 62nd birthday two days early was Marie Kelly of Glenalbyn Masters, who finished well up. Marie came to master's swimming 16 years ago and now teaches swimming.

Making it a family day out were Neil Murphy and Anne Tannam.

Neil swam the men's race with 12-year-old son Darragh, the youngest swimmer on the day.

Anne then took to the water with daughter Sian, aged 14. And yes -- they'll all be back next year!

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