The annual Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim took place on Saturday 21st July, now in its 13th year the swim has become one of Irelands biggest and longest one day swims. The swim which sold out saw 146 swimmers beginning their swim in Aughinish in Co. Clare and finishing at Blackrock Diving Tower in Salthill, the swim is a distance of roughly 13 kilometres (if you swam straight)
Hundreds of people welcomed home the victorious swimmers at Blackrock Tower from 12 noon. The swim which attracts swimmers from across the world saw a total 61 solo swimmers and 85 relay swimmers taking part in teams of 2,3 and 4 swimmers. Since the swim began 13 years ago, 569 people have swum the Bay and this year again it will be a mixture of swimmers who have completed the swim every year and complete novices.
Safety as always was a priority for the swim, the swim would not be possible without the maritime community in the west. Each swimmer taking part needs a boat to follow and track their swim. Ciaran Oliver from Galway Bay Boat Tours expertly coordinated all the boats across the bay.
The swim has become one of the most important fundraising initiates for west of Ireland charity Cancer Care West. This year the event is hoping to raise close to €120,000 through swimmers raising funds and awareness as well as bucket collections that were happening throughout Saturday. Spectators and swimmers were treated to refreshments by Mr Waffle and all monies raised goes directly to Cancer Care West.
“Having helped to start the event back in 2006 with just 3 swimmers, the Thornton family are immensely proud to continue to be a part of what has become the biggest annual fundraiser for Cancer Care West. The event leans heavily on the large maritime community of Galway Bay and the businesses within our home village of Salthill. The event wouldn’t be possible without their help. For the swimmers, our swim offers the open water experience of a lifetime and the opportunity to do their own little bit for the person in their lives that has been touched by Cancer. Everyone involved takes part in the event for their own special reason and we are honoured that the memory of our mother Frances, who loved to swim, lives on through those making the annual crossing across Galway Bay,” said Kevin Thornton.
Last year’s swim raised €108,000 for Cancer Care West, these monies raised helped to fund the expansion of support services for cancer patients including a counselling service for children and a dedicated gym rehabilitation space for cancer patients.