Bay Swim Tips
  • Bay Swim Tips

Event Day Info Bay Swim Tips

Bay Swimmer Tips

The following tips are to assist swimmers on the day of the swim. These have been compiled from swimmers who previously completed the crossing.


  • Try and get lots of carbohydrates into you in the days leading up to the swim. Things like pasta, potatoes, rice etc… are all good. Get some proper protein into you too. e.g. chicken fillets.
  • I’d advise you to have your nutrition and water plan properly sorted out before the day. i.e. What and when you’re going to eat and drink and make sure your crew member on the boat knows what is required of them.  They are there to assist you!
  • Know your assigned boat captain and crew member and keep them up to date with your plans for the swim.  You must contact your boat captain in advance to arrange when to meet them prior to the swim. Most boat captains will be attending the boat captain briefing on the Wednesday before the swim – check the news section of the website for details.  They will also be mooring their boats in Galway docks on the evening before the swim which may be a suitable time to meet.    You also need to arrange when to give your crew member your dry ‘boat’ bag with your food and supplies for the swim.
  • Make sure you have spare goggles and swim cap on board your boat. Tinted / Polarised swim goggles are recommended (if it is a sunny day)!
    • Note: Tip from a previous swimmer – bring flip flops to walk across the rocky shore to get to the start line. Disposable ‘hotel spa’ flip flops also good!
  • It will be a long swim so make sure you grease up well with body glide and/or vaseline on the back of your neck and under your arms to avoid friction burns.
    • Note: Tip from a previous swimmer: It is recommended to use a disposable glove to avoid vaseline getting onto your hands and subsequently your swim goggles.
  • For relay team members, make sure you have warm clothing and hat to wear before and after your swim so as to avoid heat loss. Make sure you also have additional food and drinks on your relay team support boat for your relay team.

Swim Day Nutrition:

  • Breakfast – Don’t eat anything different to what you normally eat. You’ll suffer for it later in the day. Stick to your normal breakfast.
  • During the Event – I recommend energy bars, breakfast bars, energy gels, warm energy drinks and fruit like bananas and oranges.  Don’t however try anything new on the day. Stomach cramps can happen very easily, especially when using gels. Make sure to try out any energy food or drinks you plan to use, during training, before the swim.
  • I recommend stopping after the first hour for an energy drink and something small to eat and then stopping every 45 minutes after that.

Swimming with the Boat:

  • Ask your boat captain/crew to bring a flag on the boat which will make it easier for you to locate it during the swim.
  • The boat will be setting the direction. You – the swimmer will be setting the speed, so pick a spot on the front half of your support boat and try to stay in line with that.
  • Stay beside the boat not behind it. This will ensure you won’t be affected by engine fumes and that you don’t get a mouth full of diesel!
  • Always be aware of where you are in relation to the boat propeller.
  • For safety reasons, you must swim on the windward side of the boat.  This will ensure that the boat does not land on top of you if caught with wind or swell. The order is WIND – SWIMMER – BOAT.
  • Ask your crew member to bring a whistle that they can use to attract your attention if you are swimming off course.  You will not be able to hear their shouts! Once you hear the whistle, look up and swim back towards the boat as the boat captain must maintain their course and direction.
  • Try to breathe every 3-5 strokes as breathing every two will tire you quickly.
  • Stay (relatively) close to your boat. If you swim too close to your boat, your captain will not be able to see you.
  • Although not mandatory after the opening section of the swim,  we recommend that swimmers use a swim tow float which will assist your boat captain in seeing you during the swim. A suitable one is the Tow-Float from

Relay Teams:

The order in which Relay team members decide to swim the bay depends on a number of factors which are listed below. Each team member should review these before deciding on which swimmer swims first, middle or last. Weather conditions will have a bearing on your decision so you should watch the forecast during the week leading up to the swim – particularly from Wednesday onwards.

Order of Swimmers

  • Mandatory:  The first swimmer must swim with a tow-float.  This is mandatory for all swimmers for the initial section of the swim until you reach your support boat.  This will also assist your boat in locating you at the start of the swim. A suitable one is the Tow-Float from 
  • The first swimmer in the relay team will have to swim approx 1.5km from the start at Aughinish to pick up their support boat moored off Deer Island.  Marker buoys will identify the swim route and the location of the support boats. There will only be kayak support for this initial section so it is important that the first relay swimmer is comfortable with swimming at least this distance (1.5km).
  • As the prevailing wind is normally from the SW, then the first section of the swim is usually the calmest section of the crossing. The weather forecast will have a big impact on your final decision.
  • The biggest swell and tidal currents are normally found in the middle section of the bay. Typically, your strongest swimmer will swim this section.
  • Sea Sickness – Swimmers 2 (and 3 and 4) will spend the longest time on the relay team support boat waiting for their turn to swim.  If conditions are rough, then sea sickness prior to (or during) your swim may become an issue. You need to plan for this. If you plan to take sea sickness tablets, you will need to take these before you get on the boat. There are also natural remedies available to prevent sea sickness.
  • As this is a charity swim event, then relay team swimmers can swap in and out multiple times.  However, to reduce the number of transitions and to avoid cold, it is recommended that each swimmer swims for a minimum of 45 mins – 1 hour before handing over to the next swimmer.
  • For safety reasons, only one relay swimmer is permitted in the water at any time (except during changeovers).
  • All swimmers in the relay team will have to swim the final 500 m together into the finish at Blackrock.  There is a no-boat exclusion zone around Blackrock tower.

Warm Clothing, Food/Drinks and your Boat bag and Finish bag

  • Bring plenty of warm clothes and warm drinks! It may rain so bring wet gear to keep you dry and warm on the boat prior to and after your swim.
  • When your section of the swim is complete, to avoid cold, it is recommended that you change into warm dry clothing –  (you may wish to leave the bottom half of your wetsuit on if you plan to swim again). Even on a fine day, previous relay team swimmers commented on how long it took them to get warm again once their section of the swim was over. 
  • All swimmers will need two bags for their clothes/food – a dry ‘Boat’ bag and a ‘Finish’ bag.
  • Swimmer 1 needs to give their dry ‘Boat’ bag with warm clothing (and any food/drink) to their team members to have on the relay team support boat after their section of the swim.
  • Swimmers 2 (and 3 and 4) need to also bring a dry ‘Boat’ bag onto the boat with their warm clothing and food/drink.
  • All relay team swimmers also need to ensure that you have a separate ‘Finish‘ bag with warm clothing in Blackrock after you finish the swim. Due to the no-boat zone in operation at Blackrock, your clothes on the boat will NOT be able to be offloaded at Blackrock tower.  You can retrieve these later from your crew member that was assisting you on the boat.
  • It is recommended that Relay team swimmers Swimmers 2 (and 3 and 4) give their ‘Finish’ bag to their first swimmer to leave on the bus. All bags left on the bus at the Start in Aughinish will be transported back to Blackrock to be available to the swimmer at the finish. 

Swim Day

  • On Saturday morning of the swim, only the first relay swimmer should be on the bus leaving the Salthill Hotel for the start at Aughinish, Co. Clare.  ( Note: Tip from a previous swimmer – bring flip flops to walk across the rocky shore to get to the start line.)
  • Swimmers 2 (and 3 and 4) should be on your relay team support boat departing Galway docks at the RNLI station  (or wherever departure point you have agreed with your boat Captain).  Boat departure times will be provided at the swimmer briefing the evening before the swim and is dependent on your swim wave.
  • All swimmers must wear their own Personal Flotation Device (PFD) while on the boat. Check with your boat captain or bring your own.
Going on previous years results, we estimate it should take 3 hours and no more than 5 hours. It really depends on the day though!  If you look at the results from previous years, you will see that the weather (wind speed and direction) and tides have a significant impact on swim times.