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WHAT IS THE FRANCES THORNTON MEMORIAL GALWAY BAY SWIM (FTMGBS)?
The Galway Bay Swim – which in 2017 is in its 12th year is a 13km, guided swim that traverses Galway Bay.The swim from Aughinish in Co. Clare to Blackrock Diving Tower in Salthill is one of the longest (and friendliest) open water swims in Ireland and is the only bay swim crossing on the Wild Atlantic Way.
- HOW MANY SWIM PLACES ARE THERE?
There are 60 solo swimmer slots and 15 relay slots (teams of 2-4) for the 2017 bay swim. Unfortunately, as it is a popular swim, due to safety reasons and the availability of support boats, not all applicants can be offered a slot in the bay swim.
- WHAT IS THE SWIM COURSE?
The swim from Aughinish in Co. Clare to Blackrock Diving Tower in Salthill is a distance of 10.5Km as the crow flies. However, it is not a straight crossing as swimmers have to navigate through swim gates (marker buoys) on the bay. In addition, due to currents, wind and tidal ranges of up to 5 metres in Galway Bay, swimmers can cover a distance of up to 13Km on the crossing. Swimmers should factor this into their training plans.
- WHAT ARE THE MINIMUM AGES LIMITS FOR SWIMMERS?
Safety rules in place for the swim require that the minimum age for all swimmers (Solo and Relay) is 18 years on the day of the swim.
- CAN I ENTER IN MORE THAN ONE CATEGORY (SOLO & RELAY)?
No – you can only swim in one category as either a Solo OR a Relay team member. Safety rules in place for the swim require that there is only 1 swimmer in the water for each support boat. If you wish to swim the full 13km across the bay, then you must enter as a Solo swimmer and have your own support boat to accompany you. If you are swimming as part of a Relay team, then you must exit the water onto your support boat after you complete your section of the bay swim.
- HOW DO I APPLY FOR THE GALWAY BAY SWIM? WHAT ARE THE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS?
Registration opens in March each year and is completed online, through the Eventbrite link on the http://galwaybayswim.com website. Registration closes on July 1st or whenever all swim places are allocated – whichever occurs first.
Applications are then reviewed by the Galway Bay Swim committee and you will be contacted directly if additional information is required (such as your prior open water swimming experience). If there are no queries on your application, swimmers are then offered a slot on the swim on a first come first served basis once they fulfill the following criteria:
- Provide your own boat (and Captain) to guide you on the swim. Note: the type of boat most suitable is a 5 metre Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) with a 50HP engine. A VHF radio and lifejackets for all crew members is mandatory on each boat. You may be required to submit your boat for a pre-boat safety inspection prior to the swim. As a general rule, lake boats or boats not used regularly on the ocean are NOT acceptable.
- Provide one crew member on the boat that will assist you (with food, water, moral support, etc.) on the swim. Note: The Captain’s job is solely to drive the boat, to navigate and for safety – the swimmer is responsible for providing their own crew member.
- Have your boat Captain complete the boat safety checklist and declaration on the Forms section of the website: CLICK HERE: http://galwaybayswim.com/forms/
- Complete the Medical and Swimmer Waiver form and submit no later than 1st July, 2017. CLICK HERE: http://galwaybayswim.com/forms/
- Complete the 4km open water swim time trial in Salthill (held in June each year) in a time of under 95 minutes. (2km open water swim for relay team members in under 50 minutes) .
- Pay the €50 application fee online via Eventbrite and commit to raising €500 (€1000 for Relay Teams) for our charity – Cancer Care West. (Note the €50 application fee goes towards your fundraising target)
If there are outstanding issues regarding any applicants, such as: open water swim experience, carrying out the time trial or successfully passing the medical, then these must be resolved by 1st July or your place will be given to another swimmer.
- WHAT IS THE APPLICATION PROCESS FOR RELAY TEAMS?
The Relay team captain applies on Eventbrite on behalf of their team. The team captain enters their own personal details and the names and ages of their team members (2- 4 swimmers max per team). There are two categories on Eventbrite for Relay teams – teams that have their own boat organised and those teams that wish to be placed on the boat waitlist. Choose the appropriate category for your team.
Relay team members must fulfill the same criteria as all other swimmers, i.e. complete a medical and also the time trial (2km). Applications are then reviewed by the Galway Bay Swim committee and you will be contacted directly if additional information is required. If there are no queries on your application, teams are then offered a slot on the swim on a first come first served basis.
- IS THERE AN APPLICATION FEE?
As it is a charity swim event, we ask solo swimmers to raise €500 for our chosen charity (€1000 for Relay teams) – Cancer Care West.
We do ask for a €50 application fee (payable via credit card) when registering on Eventbrite. This money goes towards your fund raising target. The €50 is non-refundable and will be donated to charity.
- DO I NEED MY OWN BOAT TO ACCOMPANY ME ON THE CROSSING?
Yes – if you can provide your own boat through your own contacts and friends, then you will take priority over another swimmer that cannot provide a boat. Having your own boat and fulfilling the medical and open water swim requirements (4km time trial for solo swimmers / 2km for relay swimmers) means that you will have a place in the swim. Note that your application must contain the following information about the boat that is accompanying you across the bay:
- Captains Name, telephone number and email address
- Confirmation that the Captain has a powerboat licence.
- Type of Boat
- Confirmation of VHF radio on board and lifejackets for all crew.
There is a more detailed boat form that must be completed. It is located on the Forms section http://galwaybayswim.com/forms/ of the website. Note: Your application will be confirmed only after the Galway Bay Swim committee safety officer has reviewed and approved of your boat.
- WHAT TYPE OF BOAT IS REQUIRED?
Due to the sea conditions in the bay, we recommend a 5 metre RIB with a minimum 50HP engine (or equivalent). The RIB has worked well in previous years due to being lower in the water allowing for easy communication with the swimmer. Boat maneuverability is also important when guiding the swimmer across the bay. The Captain also needs to have a powerboat licence, boat insurance and a VHF radio on board. Lifejackets are mandatory for all crew and relay team swimmers (waiting their turn to swim on the boat).
Note that if you do NOT have a RIB to accompany you, then please email email@example.com with your boat details and a photo. We will review your boat and let you know if it is suitable. Note that as a general rule, lake boats or other boats that are NOT used regularly in the ocean are not approved for use on the Galway Bay Swim.
- WHAT IF I CANNOT LOCATE A BOAT TO ACCOMPANY ME ON THE SWIM?
Note: Due to the larger number of swimmers and relay teams participating each year, there are very limited boats for those swimmers on the waitlist. We strongly encourage all swimmers to try and locate their own boat. If you register on the boat waitlist on Eventbrite and subsequently locate a boat, we will hold a place for you on the swim.
The Galway Bay Swim is run with the support of the Galway maritime community. We depend on boat captains to volunteer their time to accompany swimmers registered on the boat waitlist. This can take until the second week in July as we are dependent on boat captains confirming their availability.
You should ensure that you register on Eventbrite indicating that you do NOT have your own boat. The Galway Bay Swim committee will notify all swimmers by July 1st if boat captains have notified us of their availability. Priority will be given to those swimmers travelling from outside Galway. After that, swimmers will be notified on a first come first served basis – i.e. the date you registered on Eventbrite for the swim.
- CAN I REGISTER IN TWO CATEGORIES - SWIMMER (WITH BOAT) AND SWIMMER (BOAT WAITLIST)?
If you do NOT have a boat confirmed when registering for the swim, then you must register as a swimmer on the boat waitlist. As swimmers can not be registered in both categories at the same time, it is important that you email firstname.lastname@example.org if you locate a boat and wish to transfer from the boat waitlist. Swimmers that are registered in more than one category will have both their applications removed from the swim.
If you have a boat captain confirmed, then you can register in the Swimmer (with boat) category on Eventbrite. If you register as a Swimmer (with boat), then the Galway Bay Swim Committee take no responsibility for putting you in contact with the volunteer boat captains.
In June, we contact boat captains who assisted us in previous years and ask them if they will be supporting the swim again this year. Swimmers registered on the boat waitlist on Eventbrite will then be put in contact with Captains who have agreed to support the swim. This process can take until the second week in July as we are dependent on boat captains confirming their availability.
Note: If you initially register on Eventbrite as a Swimmer (BOAT WAITLIST) and then subsequently locate a boat, then you must register again on Eventbrite as a Swimmer (WITH BOAT). We will hold a place for all swimmers on the boat waitlist who subsequently locate a boat.
- WHERE AND WHEN IS THE SWIM TIME TRIAL HELD?
There is a mandatory swim trial for all swimmers (Solo and Relay team members) held in June. As well as completing the trial, this is a great opportunity for you to meet your fellow swimmers and discuss your training plans, swim fundraising, open water swim tips, etc. You will be notified of the exact dates via email.
- Location: Blackrock Diving Tower, Salthill, Galway
- Dates: Will be confirmed via email – usually the first and third weekends in June.
- Meeting and Registration point is at the grass area just outside the Blackrock changing area.
- Solo swimmers will swim from Blackrock to Palmers Rock Pier (with the lifeguard hut on top) – (opposite Cocos Cafe) and back twice. (4km)
- Relay team swimmers will swim from Blackrock to Palmers Rock Pier (opposite Cocos Cafe) and back once.(2km)
- Qualifying Cut-off times:
- Solo swimmers, 4km in a time of under 95 minutes.
- Relay team members, 2km swim in under 50 minutes.
- If you are planning on completing the Galway Bay Swim in togs, then you must complete the time trial in togs.
All swimmers must complete the time trial within 3 months of the Galway Bay Swim date. There is a second time trial scheduled the third week of June for those that are unable to attend the first time trial or fail to meet the qualifying time at the first trial.
Note: Overseas swimmers can complete a ‘verified’ qualifying open water swim and submit the Form on our website. http://www.galwaybayswim.com/forms/
- DO I NEED INSURANCE FOR THE EVENT?
As a charity swim event, the Galway Bay Swim has very limited insurance cover for the event. We therefore strongly recommend that all participants (swimmers, boat captains, support crew) ensure they are adequately insured for the risks present on the day of the event.
The Galway Bay Swim cannot accept liability for personal or property damage resulting from your participation in the event.
- I LIVE OUTSIDE IRELAND AND CANNOT ATTEND THE SWIM TRIAL IN BLACKROCK, SALTHILL. WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?
For swimmers that live outside of Ireland, we will allow you to complete a VERIFIED open water sea swim of 4Km in a time of under 95 minutes. (Note that a pool, river or lake swim is NOT acceptable). A form will be available on the FORMS section of the http://galwaybayswim.com website which you must complete and have witnessed by a committee member of your local Swim / Tri club. You must also provide an email address and contact number for the committee member. Once this is verified by the Galway Bay Swim committee, it will be accepted as evidence of you meeting the requirements for the open water trial swim.
- I HAVE PREVIOUSLY COMPLETED THE GALWAY BAY SWIM. DO I NEED TO SUBMIT A NEW MEDICAL FORM THIS YEAR?
Yes – the Galway Bay Swim Medical Officer requires that a new form be submitted by each swimmer and relay team member for this year’s event. Your medical form must be completed within 3 months of the date of the swim. The form is available on the FORMS section of the http://galwaybayswim.com website
- WHAT HAPPENS IF THE RACE IS CANCELLED DUE TO BAD WEATHER OR UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES?
Due to the nature of outdoor swimming, the Galway Bay Swim may be cancelled/postponed prior to or on the day of the event due to unforeseen circumstances such as bad weather. A forecast of Force 5 or greater winds in the bay will put the swim at risk of going ahead. A Met Eireann ‘Small Craft Warning‘ for Galway Bay will result in the swim being postponed / cancelled.
A review of the sea area forecast will be made at 10.00pm on the Thursday evening before the swim. If there is a risk that the swim will have to be postponed / cancelled, updates will be posted to the Galway Bay Swim website and Facebook pages and will be sent via the email address you have provided on your registration form. Please ensure that you provide a correct email address when completing your registration form.
Should the event be cancelled, a provisional backup date for the swim is on the following day – Sunday (should the forecast be more favourable). However, not all of the volunteer boat captains may be available on the backup date and the swim may have to be postponed to a later date in August.
The Galway Bay Swim committee are not liable for any travel or accommodation costs incurred.
- WHAT HAPPENS IF I CAN NOT SWIM 13KM?
One of the aims of the Galway Bay Swim is to motivate people of all swimming abilities to get active and enjoy the experience of open-water swimming in a safe environment. A relay team may be a suitable option for you. If you can swim 2km in open water in a time of under 50 minutes, then you can enter as a relay team member. It also helps to have 1 or 2 stronger swimmers on your relay team that can swim a longer section of the crossing. You should take time to train and prepare properly for the event. To help you do this, we have put together training tips on our website.
In addition, each swimmer has their own support boat alongside them should you get into difficulty during your swim. (Instructions of what to do will be given at the (mandatory) swimmer pre-event briefing).
- IF I ENTER A RELAY TEAM, CAN I SUBSTITUTE A DIFFERENT SWIMMER AT A LATER DATE?
Yes – relay team member names may be changed with the prior approval of the Galway Bay Swim committee. Please email email@example.com with your relay team name, the name of the new swimmer and the team member they are replacing so that we can update your registration. The new relay team member will have to complete the 2km time trial and also submit their own medical form.
- HOW DOES THE RELAY SYSTEM WORK?
As this is a charity swim (and not a race), relay team members can designate how long each team member wishes to swim. We recommend that each relay team member swims for a minimum of 1 hour to minimise transitions. Also, in previous years, the tradition is that the full relay team swim together for the last 500 metres into Blackrock tower for the finish (and applause).
A relay team will consist of 2 – 4 swimmers. Each relay team will be allocated to a specific swim wave. The first member of the team that starts the swim in Aughinish will travel over on the bus to the start line. Relay team members 2 – 4 will board their support boat in Galway docks on Saturday morning (or a location as agreed with your support boat captain).
When Swimmer 1 is finished their section of the swim, Swimmer 2 will get into the water behind Swimmer 1. Once Swimmer 2 has swum past their Swimmer 1, they must exit the water and board their support boat. This is a mandatory safety requirement to ensure that there is only one swimmer in the water per support boat. Please ensure that you have warm clothes and warm drinks left with your crew member on your support boat. Relay team members could spend up to 3 hours on the boat so warm drinks, dry clothing and rain gear are essential. Even on a fine day, conditions on Galway Bay can mean that it is cold on the boat. All relay team members on the support boat must wear a lifejacket.
- CAN I SWIM WITH A FRIEND?
For safety reasons, one swimmer is allocated to each boat when crossing the bay. The conditions in Galway Bay can be very severe and swimmers can get easily separated even with a 1 metre swell running.
In exceptional cases, you may apply to the Galway Bay Swim committee to swim with a friend/partner. This option is not guaranteed and is based upon performance at the swim trial and is at the discretion of the Galway Bay Swim Committee. The committee are also bound by the rules put in place by Irish Water Safety for the event.
- CAN I SWIM WITH A KAYAK?
Kayakers are not allowed (except to assist during the Start and Finish section of the bay swim). The Galway bay swim is one of the longest open water swims in the country and it is at some points 6km from shore on either side. Conditions on the bay can change rapidly. For safety reasons, each swimmer must have a (power) boat with them at all times.
- CAN I SWIM WITH A SWIM SAFETY BUOY (SAFER SWIMMER FLOAT)?
Yes – we recommend that swimmers use a swim safety buoy which will assist your boat in locating you at the start of the swim. Note that due to shallow water, your support boat will be located approx 2.5km from the start line at Aughinish so solo swimmers and the first relay team swimmer will have to swim this initial section with no boat support. Kayak support will be available.
We recommend that swimmers use a swim safety buoy which will assist your boat in locating you and will also keep you visible to your boat captain and support crew during the crossing. A suitable one is the Tow-Float from http://www.swimsecure.co.uk/
There are reviews of the swim safety buoy here: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2013/06/safer-swimmer-review.html and here: http://blog.swimator.com/2011/03/swim-safety-device-review-swimming-safe_21.html
- IS THE RACE BEING TIMED?
Yes, the Galway Bay Swim will be timed, from start line to finish line. The results will be available online after the event and top places will be announced at the post swim event.
- ARE THERE PRIZES?
There are medals for all swimmers who complete the crossing and the Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim trophy is awarded for the fastest solo swimmer time. Solo swimmers and Relay team swimmers receive Galway Bay Swim medals indicating which swim category that they participated in.
- WHAT IS THE AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE IN JULY?
The average water temperature in Galway Bay in July is 13 – 15 degrees Celsius. For more detailed monthly Galway sea water temperatures, go to this website: http://www.seatemperature.org/europe/ireland/gaillimh-july.htm
- WHAT TYPE OF WETSUIT SHOULD I WEAR?
You should use a well-fitting specific swim wetsuit, such as those designed for triathlons. These are usually made from a flexible neoprene that allows you to swim normally whilst helping to insulate the body against the cold water.
The most important thing is that whatever wetsuit you decide to wear –surfing, shortie, specific swimming wetsuit is that it fits well. Therefore, you should try it on before you purchase the wetsuit.
It should be snug when you put it on, so the water is trapped next to your body to warm you up. It should not be loose fitting, so the water flows through it, as this will not warm you up and could restrict your swimming. We recommend that you use the wetsuit for your open water training prior to the swim and also for the time trial.
- AM I ALLOWED TO WEAR FINS, BOOTIES, NEOPRENE SOCKS AND GLOVES?
If desired, the swimmer may wear booties, neoprene socks and / or gloves during the swim. We do not allow fins, hand paddles, pull-buoys or swim floats.
- WHAT ARE THE LOCATIONS OF SWIMMER SIGN-IN AND SWIMMER BRIEFING FOR THE SWIM?
Swim registration takes place the Friday evening before the swim at 6.00pm and attendance is mandatory for all swimmers.
Venue: Cancer Care West Support Center, Westside, Galway (Opposite Dunnes Stores / McDonalds)
A swimmer briefing will take place after registration . Your Medical form must be submitted in advance and monies raised for charity must be brought along or you will not be allowed to participate in the swim? Further details will be confirmed via email to all registered swimmers approx 1 week prior to the swim.
- WHEN AND WHERE IS THE BOAT CAPTAINS AND CREW BRIEFING FOR THE SWIM?
A boat safety briefing takes place the week of the swim. Attendance is mandatory for all boat captains/crew. Your boat registration form must be completed online prior to the briefing – http://galwaybayswim.com/forms/. Boat Captains and swimmers will be notified of the briefing time, date and location via email approx 1 week prior to the swim.
- WHERE ARE THE START AND FINISH LINES FOR THE GALWAY BAY SWIM?
The start line is at Aughinish, Co. Clare. Competitors will be transported from Salthill to the start line at Aughinish on the morning of the swim. Your allocated bus departure time will be provided at the pre-event swim briefing on Friday evening before the swim.
The finish line is at Blackrock tower, Salthill, Galway. For directions to the start line at Aughinish, CLICK HERE
- WHAT ARE THE WAVE START TIMES FOR THE EVENT AND WHAT DO THEY MEAN?
Due to the large number of swimmers entering in recent years, the start time has been split into three waves. This is for logistical and safety purposes. Your wave time for the swim will be confirmed at the swimmer registration / briefing the evening before the swim. Your wave start time will have a corresponding bus time to transport the swimmers from Salthill (Salthill hotel car park) to the start line in Aughinish Co. Clare on the morning of the swim. Wave times in prior years were set as follows:
- Wave 1 depart Aughinish: 8.30am
- Wave 2 depart Aughinish: 9.15am
- Wave 3 depart Aughinish: 10.00am
- ARE THERE CUT-OFF TIMES DURING THE SWIM?
The total cut off time to finish the swim at Blackrock is 6 hours. The intermediate cut-off points for the swim are as follows:
- Half-way Marker buoy (at approx 6km) – Swimmers must reach this buoy in less than 2.5 hours.
- Three-quarter way Marker buoy (at approx 9km) – Swimmers must reach this buoy in less than 4 hours .
Swimmers must reach the cut-off points by the designated time to be allowed to continue on the swim. Safety requirements in place for the swim dictate that swimmers will be required to leave the water if the cut-off points are not reached by the designated times. The Race Director’s and Safety Officers decision is final and need to be respected by all.
- WHAT COURSE MUST THE SWIMMER FOLLOW WHEN CROSSING THE BAY? WHAT ARE THE SWIM GATES?
Each swimmer must swim through three gates (marker buoys)on the crossing. The first gate will be placed 2.5km from the start at Aughinish, the second gate at the 6km mark and finally the third gate at approx. 500m from Blackrock tower. These gates mark the course and are mandatory for all swimmers for safety and logistical reasons. Swimmers that fail to pass through all three gates will be disqualified.
- HOW WILL I RECOGNISE MY BOAT? HOW WILL MY BOAT AND CREW RECOGNISE ME?
Note that due to shallow water, your support boat will be located approx 2.5 km from the start line at Aughinish so solo swimmers and the first relay team swimmer will have to swim this initial section with no boat support. Kayak support will be available. We recommend that swimmers use a swim safety buoy which will assist your boat in locating you and will also keep you visible to your boat captain and support crew during the crossing. A suitable one is the Tow-Float from http://www.swimsecure.co.uk/
In previous years, boats displayed a unique flag at the bow or stern which swimmers could use to help them identify their boat. It is recommended that each swimmer discusses with their boat captain on how to best identify their support boat.
In addition, each swimmer will be allocated to a specific wave and given a coloured hat and a unique number signifying which wave they will be part of. Each boat will also be given a number. Each swimmer’s number will correspond to their allocated boat number. The wearing of the Galway Bay swim hat is mandatory for all swimmers.
There is a review of the swim safety buoy here: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2013/06/safer-swimmer-review.html
- WHAT FACILITIES ARE AT THE START LINE IN AUGHINISH?
There are no toilet facilities at Aughinish. Please use the facilities in Salthill or on the road journey across in Clarenbridge, Kilcolgan or Kinvara before arriving at Aughinish.
Note: There is limited parking at the start line in Aughinish due to the very narrow access road. When parking, please ensure that you do not block access to the start by the bus transporting the swimmers.
- WHAT INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE FOR BOAT CAPTAINS AND CREW?
- Boat Skipper and Crew must attend the mandatory briefing which will be held during the week leading up to the swim. Boat Captains and swimmers will be notified via email.
- You may be required to present your boat for a pre-swim safety inspection by the boat safety officer to ensure it is appropriately equipped. You will be notified in advance (via email) if you are required to present your boat for inspection.
- Each skipper shall complete and sign the online boat safety checklist.
- Each participating boat shall be insured with valid third-party liability insurance for the duration of the race.
- Swimmers participate in the race entirely at their own risk. Frances Thornton Galway Bay Swim (FTGBS), its Officers, Committee, Organising Committee, Swim Officers and/or Swim Committee will not accept any liability for material damage or personal injury or death sustained in conjunction with, prior to, during, or after the race.
- The owner/skipper is responsible for warranting the suitability of the boat for this race.
- Type of boat most suitable is a 5m Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) with a 50HP engine.
- One swimmer per boat.
- Proper marine communications (VHF Marine Band Radios) MUST be available to each boat. The VHF channel for the day will be provided at the race and safety briefing.
- Each boat will be given a contact list of all boat captains, crew, ground support and medical personnel for the day.
- WHERE CAN I GET INFORMATION ABOUT FUNDRAISING?
If you would like SPONSORSHIP CARDS or assistance in getting your fundraising started, please get in contact with David O’Donnell, Regional Manager, Cancer Care West by emailing David.ODonnell@cancercarewest.ie or phone 091-545000 for further information.
In previous years, many swimmers set up their own fundraising webpage using websites such as www.idonate.ie or www.mycharity.ie. They then sent their fundraising webpage link to their friends and colleagues informing them of their planned Galway bay swim.
It might be helpful to include a link to the swim video on your fundraising page: https://youtu.be/YBy4b4iuxg4
If you have set up a fundraising webpage, then please email us the link so that we can add it to the website: http://galwaybayswim.com/sponsor/
- WHERE CAN I STAY IN SALTHILL?
Note: Any changes to the above rules can only be made with the approval of the Galway Bay Swim Committee.