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WHAT IS THE FRANCES THORNTON MEMORIAL GALWAY BAY SWIM (FTMGBS)?
The Galway Bay Swim is a charity swim event held in July each year that traverses Galway Bay – a distance of approx 13 km. 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. All swimmers are asked to raise funds for our charity partner Cancer Care West. It is run by a volunteer committee which includes members of the Thornton family.
- HOW MANY SWIM PLACES ARE THERE?
There are 60 solo swimmer slots and 30 relay slots (teams of 2-4) for the Galway 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 place in the bay swim. Registrations open in March each year on the Galway Bay Swim website.
Note that in 2022, there are a very limited number of places for new swimmers. This is because the swimmers who registered for the 2020 swim (which was cancelled due to Covid) were first offered places on this year’s swim.
- WHAT IS THE SWIM COURSE?
The swim from Aughinish in Co. Clare to Blackrock Diving Tower in Salthill is a distance of 10.5 km as the crow flies. However, it is not a straight crossing as swimmers have to navigate by three 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 13 km on the crossing. Swimmers should factor this into their training plans.
CLICK HERE to view a larger image of the swim course.
- WHAT OPTIONS ARE THERE FOR A SHORTER DISTANCE SWIM?
If you cannot swim the full distance (13 km), then a relay team (2 – 4 swimmers) may be a suitable option for you. If you can swim 2 km 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. You also have the opportunity to meet other swimmers and the organising committee at the time-trial held in Salthill in late May / early June.
In addition, each swimmer has their own support boat alongside them should you wish to take a rest during your swim. As this is a charity swim event, you can take a rest at any time and let another swimmer from your team take over. In order to minimise the number of transitions and to reduce the effects of cold, we recommend that each relay swimmer plans to swim for at least one hour.
- 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.
- 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. The boat must have insurance cover in place.
- 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. Note that for safety reasons, jet skis, lake boats OR other boats that are NOT used regularly in the ocean are NOT approved for use on the Galway Bay Swim. The minimum boat length is 4.5 Metres due to the possible weather conditions on Galway Bay. Boats less than 4.5 Metres in length are NOT permitted. Boats greater than 10 Metres in length are not permitted without the prior written approval of the Galway Bay Swim safety officer
- 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.
- By June 1st, have your boat Captain complete the boat safety checklist and declaration on the Forms section of the website: CLICK HERE: http://galwaybayswim.com/forms/
- By July 1st, complete and submit the mandatory Medical and Swimmer Waiver form. CLICK HERE: http://galwaybayswim.com/forms/
- Complete the 4km open water swim time trial in Salthill (held in late May/ early 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.
- Provide your own boat (and Captain) to guide you on the swim. The boat must have insurance cover in place.
- CAN I ENTER IN MORE THAN ONE CATEGORY (SOLO and 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.
- 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). 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 TO HAVE A BOAT TO ACCOMPANY ME ON THE CROSSING?
Yes – for safety reasons and due to sea conditions in Galway Bay, each solo swimmer and relay team must have their own boat to accompany them across the bay.
Once you register for the swim on Eventbrite, you will have until June 1st to have your boat captain register their boat and insurance details using the Form on the Galway Bay Swim website. CLICK HERE
If you do not register your boat details with us by June 1st , we will no longer be able to guarantee you a place on the swim.
Note: As all boat captains are volunteers, we are not in a position to provide contact details of previous boat captains to swimmers.
Each swimmer must also fulfill the medical and open water swim requirements (4 Km time trial for solo swimmers / 2 Km for relay swimmers). 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 insurance in place for their boat.
- Confirmation that the captain has a powerboat licence.
- Type of boat (Recommended a 5 M RIB with a 50 HP engine.)
- Confirmation of VHF radio on board and lifejackets for all crew.
There is a more detailed boat form that must be completed no later than June 1st. 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 the (relay) swimmer to exit the water onto the boat and for easier communication with the swimmer during the crossing. This is particularly important for relay team swimmers where there will be multiple entries and exits during the swim. If your boat is not a RIB, then you should confirm with your boat captain if they will have a ladder or equivalent on their boat to allow swimmers to exit the water. Boat manoeuvrability is also important when guiding the swimmer across the bay and to ensure that the boat captain can always see their swimmer. Therefore, we have set both a minimum and a maximum boat size for the swim.
During the swim, you can be up to 6 km from land and a swimmer may need to be taken from the water in case of illness or injury and quickly brought to shore. Conditions in Galway Bay can change rapidly and it is important that your boat can safely hold all of the crew and swimmers should they need to be taken from the water. Smaller boats and engines also have more difficulty in holding their course when sea and wind conditions push the swimmer off course.
The minimum boat length is 4.5 Metres due to the possible weather conditions on Galway Bay. Boats less than 4.5 Metres in length are NOT permitted.
Boats greater than 10 Metres in length are not permitted without the prior written approval of the Galway Bay Swim safety officer. email email@example.com
For safety reasons, jet skis, lake boats OR other boats that are NOT used regularly in the ocean are NOT approved for use on the Galway Bay Swim.
The boat captain also needs to have a powerboat licence, boat insurance and a VHF radio on board. PFD’s (lifejackets) are mandatory for all crew and relay team swimmers (waiting their turn to swim on the boat).
Note: If you are unsure if your boat is suitable, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your boat details and a photo. We will review your boat and let you know if it is permitted to be used on the Galway Bay Swim.
- WHAT IF I CANNOT LOCATE A BOAT TO ACCOMPANY ME ON THE SWIM?
As a boat is mandatory for each swimmer / relay team, you will not be able to participate if you do not have a boat to accompany you across Galway Bay. The swim is run with the support of the maritime community and as all boat captains are volunteers, we are unable to provide contact details of previous boat captains to swimmers.
Note: Due to the larger number of swimmers and relay teams participating each year, we are no longer in a position to operate a boat waitlist. Any additional boats we are notified of are now required as safety boats.
- 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 late May/early 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 last Saturday in May and a backup swim trial on the second Saturday in June.
- It is strongly recommended that all swimmers attend the first swim trial in late May.
- Meeting and Registration point is at Blackrock diving tower, Salthill, Galway.
- Solo swimmers will swim from Blackrock to the 1 km yellow swim buoy at Palmers Rock Pier (with the lifeguard hut on top) – (opposite Cocos Cafe) and back twice. (4km)
- Relay team swimmers will swim from Blackrock to the 1 km yellow swim buoy at Palmers Rock Pier (opposite Cocos Cafe) and back once. (2 km)
- There will be a buoy to mark the 1 km turnaround point.
- Qualifying Cut-off times:
- Solo swimmers, 4 km in a time of under 95 minutes.
- Relay team members, 2 km 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 second 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. We recommend that all swimmers attend the first time trial so that they have the opportunity to attempt it a second time should conditions be particularly challenging on the date of 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/
- 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.
- DO I NEED INSURANCE FOR THE EVENT?
Insurance is mandatory for each boat. We strongly recommend that all participants (swimmers, support crew) are adequately insured for the risks present on the day of the event. Please see the FAQ (below) on the risks in taking part in this open water swim.
Swimmers and crew members participate in the event entirely at their own risk. Frances Thornton Galway Bay Swim (FTGBS), its Officers, 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.
- WHAT ARE THE RISKS IN ATTEMPTING TO SWIM ACROSS GALWAY BAY?
The Galway Bay Swim is a 13km OPEN WATER SWIM from Aughinish Co. Clare to Blackrock Tower, Salthill, Galway. It is a cold water (10°C – 15°C) sea swim that can take between 3 to 6 ½ hours to complete. Please bear in mind that this is an arduous physical undertaking involving cold water swimming with long exposure to the elements over a long distance. All swimmers must be capable of this length and intensity of exercise and will be required to submit a current medical examination and waiver form which is available on the Forms section of the Galway Bay Swim website.
ASSUMPTIONS OF THE RISKS OF OPEN WATER SWIMMING
Open water swimming is inherently dangerous. Open water swimmers have been injured and killed. For example, swimmers have been hit by boats and kayaks. Jellyfish and other marine animals have injured swimmers. Swimmers have been injured by objects in the water, both floating and fixed. There may be health hazards associated with pollution in the bay. Weather conditions can change quickly in Galway Bay. Bay currents have swept swimmers off course. Bay waters are cold with water temperatures typically ranging between 9 – 15 degrees Celsius. Swift currents and cold water have precipitated drowning, heart attacks, and hypothermia. These are just some of the hazards and dangers of OPEN WATER SWIMMING.
- 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. The start time of the swim may also be delayed by a few hours if the forecast is more favourable later in the day. A sea area forecast of Force 5 (>28km/h)or greater winds for Galway Bay will put the swim at risk of going ahead. A Met Eireann ‘Small Craft Warning‘ (Force 6 winds – minimum of 22 knots mean speed) for Galway Bay will result in the swim being postponed/cancelled. One or more of the following may result in the swim being postponed/cancelled.
1. Winds (Force 5) of more than 16 knots (>28km/h). Some wind directions have a greater impact on wave height in the bay than other directions.
2. Wave height of > 1.5m
3. Visibility of less than 1 km
4. Jellyfish (stinger) swarm
5. Electrical storm
6. Other reasons that the safety officer and committee decide can cause undue risk to the participants and boat crew.
A review of the sea area forecast will be made at 10.00pm on Thursday evening before the swim. Updates will also be provided at the swim briefing on Friday evening prior to 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.
Apologies, but the Galway Bay Swim committee will not be liable for any travel, accommodation or other costs incurred.
- 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?
A relay team will consist of 2 – 4 swimmers. 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 3 km or approx 1 hour to minimise transitions in and out of the boat. Also, in previous years, the tradition is that the full relay team swim together for the last 100 metres into Blackrock tower for the finish (and applause).
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 swims 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 PFD (lifejacket).
- ARE SWIM TOW FLOATS MANDATORY?
Yes – due to increased safety requirements and to increase the visibility of the swimmers, tow floats are mandatory for ALL swimmers (solo and relay) for the initial section of the swim from the start at Aughinish until you meet your support boat and are clear of the other support boats in the swimmer pick-up zone – approx 1.5 km from shore. After the swimmer meets their support boat, we recommend that swimmers continue to swim with the tow float but it is not mandatory for the remainder of the swim.
Tow floats will also be mandatory for the swim Time Trials (TT) held in late May and early June in Blackrock, Salthill, Galway.
Following a review of safety and due to the increased number of swimmers and boat traffic at the start, the Galway Bay Swim organising committee has mandated the use of swim tow floats for the start. This is consistent with many open water swims in the UK and more recently in Ireland. A tow float is a bright orange inflatable airbag with a leash and strap which is secured around a swimmer’s waist. It floats behind the swimmer making them more visible to other water users. The SWIM TOW-FLOAT will also 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 1.5 km from the start line at Aughinish so solo swimmers and the first relay team swimmer will have to swim this initial section of the swim with no boat support. Kayak support will be available.
The buoy 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: https://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/tow-floats/
Note: If you turn up at the swim start without a SWIM TOW-FLOAT, then you will not be allowed to enter the water.
- 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?
No – 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 6 km 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.
- IS THE RACE BEING TIMED?
Although the Galway Bay Swim is a charity event (and not a race), the swim will be timed, from start line to finish line. The results will be posted online on the Results section of the Galway Bay Swim website by 7.00pm 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 to the fastest solo swimmer time. Solo swimmers and Relay team swimmers receive Galway Bay Swim medals indicating which swim category that they participated in. Results are published on the Galway Bay Swim website.
- WHAT IS THE AVERAGE WATER TEMPERATURE IN JULY?
The average water temperature in Galway Bay in July is 13 – 16 degrees Celsius. For historical monthly Galway sea water temperatures, go to this website: http://www.seatemperature.org/europe/ireland/gaillimh-july.htm
The Marine Institute provides a live feed from their buoy located off Spiddal in Galway Bay. http://smartbay.marine.ie/
- 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.
- WHEN AND WHERE IS THE PRE-SWIM SWIMMER REGISTRATION AND SWIMMER BRIEFING HELD?
Swim registration takes place the Friday evening before the swim at 6.00 pm and attendance is mandatory for all swimmers.
Venue: Will be confirmed via email
A swimmer briefing will take place after the registration. The following items will be checked in order for you to participate in the swim:
- Swimmer check-in:
- Checking of completion of swim trial/affidavit: No Trial – No Swim
- Checking that the Swimmer medical form has been submitted: No Medical – No Swim
- Cross checking assigned boat and skipper: No Boat Registration – No Swim
- Note, it is the swimmer’s responsibility to ensure that their boat captain has registered their boat online: http://www.galwaybayswim.com/forms/
- Checking that the crew member(s) supporting the swimmer have completed the online registration form. http://www.galwaybayswim.com/forms/
- Handing over of funds raised for Cancer Care West. Proof of having raised at least €500 for Cancer Care West. (€1000 for Relay teams). You can show proof of your fundraising web page.
- For fundraising forms or any queries regarding Cancer Care West, email Dave O’ Donnell on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Collecting of race bag (swim hat, goodies)
WHAT YOU NEED TO BRING:
- Proof of all of the above items. If you have pre-submitted the information online via our website, then we will have a record of this.
- Food and supplies to give to your assigned boat captain and crew. You will need to arrange to meet your boat captain and crew for bag drop and to give your swim nutrition, drinks, spare goggles, etc. to your boat crew.
THE SWIMMER BRIEFING WILL COVER THE FOLLOWING AREAS:
- Safety information for swimmers
- Allocation of your swim wave time on Saturday morning – note there are four swim waves.
- Departure times for bus from The Salthill Hotel on Saturday morning to the start at Aughinish, Co. Clare.
- Chart of the Galway Bay Swim course
- Swim gates (buoys) and cut-off times for swimmers to reach these points.
- General advice on swimming alongside your boat
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 during the week prior to the swim in a local hotel. Attendance is mandatory for all boat captains/crew.
Date, Time and Venue: To be confirmed (via email to all registered boat captains.)
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. The closest Eircode is the Martello Tower at Aughinish – H91 N2KC. Swimmers will be transported by bus 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. We strongly recommend that all swimmers take the bus provided as there is very limited parking at the start.
The finish line is at Blackrock tower, Salthill, Galway. For directions to the start line at Aughinish, CLICK HERE
- WHEN ARE THE SWIM WAVE START TIMES AND THE CORRESPONDING BUS / BOAT DEPARTURE TIMES TO THE START OF THE SWIM?
Due to the large number of swimmers entering in recent years, the start time has been split into four 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. Note that your swim wave is set by the Galway Bay Swim committee and can not be changed to meet a swimmer’s personal requirements or preference.
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. Bus departure times and swim wave start times in previous years were as follows and will be confirmed at the pre-swim briefing:
Bus departure times from the Salthill Hotel, Promenade, Salthill, Galway.
- 07.00am – Wave 1 bus departs for swim start in Aughinish, Co. Clare.
- 07.30am – Wave 2 & 3 bus departs for swim start in Aughinish, Co. Clare.
- 08.00am – Wave 4 bus departs for swim start in Aughinish, Co. Clare.
The bus will not wait so please arrive 15 mins prior to your bus departure time.
Swim start times from Aughinish, Co. Clare
- 8.30am – Wave 1 starts swim
- 9.00am – Wave 2 starts swim
- 9.30am – Wave 3 starts swim
- 10.00am – Wave 4 starts swim
Boat departure times from Galway docks to muster point at Deer Island off Aughinish, Co. Clare
- 7.15am – Wave 1 support boats depart Galway docks to be at Deer Island at 8.00am
- 7.45am – Wave 2 support boats depart Galway docks to be at Deer Island at 8.30am
- 8.15am – Wave 3 support boats depart Galway docks to be at Deer Island at 9.00am
- 8.45am – Wave 4 support boats depart Galway docks to be at Deer Island at 9.30am
If your boat captain is launching their boat from another location, then this will need to be coordinated with the swimmer(s) and crew member(s).
- 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 point (at approx 9km) – Swimmers must reach this point 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.
Swimmers will be required to withdraw from the swim whenever a swimmer shows signs of hypothermia, extreme tiredness, dehydration, is swimming at an extremely slow pace or has any abnormal symptoms or injuries which prevent them from swimming normally.
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 (MARKER BUOYS)?
There are three swim gates (marker buoys) which indicate the course across the bay.
- Gate 1 – @ 2km mark – Deer Island
- Gate 2 – @ 6km mark – Tawin Point
- Gate 3 – 50 m West of Foudra Rock buoy (South Cardinal Mark)
Each swimmer must swim within 50 metres of three marker buoys (gates) on the crossing. The first gate will be placed 2 km from the start at Aughinish, the second gate at the 6 km mark (off Tawin point) and finally, the third gate located approx 50 metres WEST of Foudra Rock Buoy which is 1 km from the finish at Blackrock tower. These buoys mark the course and are mandatory for all swimmers for safety and logistical reasons.
- 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. For the 2018 swim, all swimmers (solo and relay) must have a SWIM TOW FLOAT for the opening section of the swim until you meet your support boat. There will be swim buoys to indicate the course and kayak support will also be available.
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.
Once you meet your support boat, it is recommended that you continue to use a swim tow float which will 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 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 will be temporary Portaloo toilet facilities at the start at Aughinish. The bus bringing swimmers to the start will not have toilet facilities. Please use the facilities in Salthill before the bus departs.
No changing facilities or shelter are available at the start so be prepared to change in the open. Bring sufficient clothes to keep you warm and dry prior to your swim wave start time. Your swim bag with your clothes will be transported back to Blackrock tower, Salthill and left for you at the swim finish.
Note: There is limited parking at the start line due to the very narrow access road. If you are driving to Aughinish, please do not block the road when parking as the bus transporting swimmers needs access to the start line. There are also local residents living on Aughinish island so please do not block access to any roads/property.
For this reason, we recommend that all swimmers avail of the (free) bus to the start from the Salthill Hotel on the morning of the swim.
- WHAT INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE FOR BOAT CAPTAINS AND CREW?
- Boat Skipper and Crew must attend the mandatory briefing which will be held on Wednesday evening prior 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 available on the Forms section of the Galway Bay Swim website.
- 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, 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 safety of the boat for this race.
- Type of boat most suitable is a 5 M Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) with a 50HP engine. The min boat size is 4 M and the Max boat size allowed is 10 M
- One swimmer in the water per boat.
- Proper marine communications (VHF Marine Band Radios) MUST be available on each boat. The VHF channel for the day will be provided at the race and safety briefing. VHF radio will be the primary method of communication and will be used to contact the safety boats and medical personnel if required during 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 at email@example.com 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.