LAHINCH man Pat Conway will complete his 40th Liscannor Bay swim this weekend. This is the 10th year that he has raised funds for the Burren Chernobyl Project (BCP) and to date he has brought in about €50,000 for the North Clare charity.
Cormac McCarthy of BCP explains the importance of Pat’s contribution.
“This would be one of our top fundraising events each year. The difference this makes is phenomenal over in Belarus. While we still make the shipments of clothes and toys, the money we raise in Ireland and spend over there is really important. We get huge bang for our buck by spending it over there so Pat’s fundraising is extremely important. We are hugely grateful to all our fundraisers but Pat’s would represent one of the major fundraisers we have each year,” he explained.
A direct swim from the prom in Lahinch to Liscannor across the bay is approximately 2km but Pat takes a slightly more circuitous route.
“No one has ever measured it. The swim would be around 2km but he does a longer version. The people who join him on the swim will take a slightly shorter route,” Cormac commented.
“Because this is the 40th anniversary of the swim, there are about 11 people joining him. If they raised €150 they could take part with him. That would be one of the larger groups we have had in recent years,” he added.
The swim begins at the prom in Lahinch at 3pm on Sunday. Both Cormac and Pat are hopeful for lots of support.
“We would love to see as many people out supporting him as possible,” Cormac stated.
“People can support Pat using www.mycharity.ie. All the links are on www.patconwayswim.com but we also want people to come out on the day to celebrate the 40 years of swimming. People will be able to donate on the day and we will be out with our buckets but all the ways to help donate are on the website,” Cormac stated.
At 57, Pat is looking forward to the swim. “The actual swim is not that difficult,” he said. “I used to do long distance swimming myself and this is only about two to two and a half miles, depending on the tide. Some years are really gruellng. It depends on the tide. You can get a rough tide or a calm tide. As the years have gone on, what I am looking for has changed. Now I would be hoping for the calm tide, whereas when I was younger I was hoping for a rough tide,” he noted.
“Over the years it has got easier to get the help that I need. Lahinch Sea Rescue has come on board and Doolin Coast Guard. They are a great help. The worry I have is the number of swimmers that join me because I feel responsible for their safety. We have private boats that help on the day too and the safety aspect is looked after, so I can relax. Once you know all the safety boats are around you, it is a lot easier. When we started, we used to be lucky to get a currach. That is the difference between then and now,” Pat remembered.
Pat paid particular tribute to Brian McCarthy, native of Liscannor, who lives in Barcelona but returns every year to do the swim and assist with fundraising.
Forty years after his first cross-bay swim, Pat’s preparations have changed significantly. “I’ve gone out about 7.45am or 8am for 45 minutes every morning for the last two and a half months or so. There is no way that at 57 I could get in and just do it but I enjoy doing the swim and the training and enjoy what I am doing it for,” he outlined.
In the early years, Pat completed the swim for the Ennistymon Hospital and then for a boy who required specialist treatment in Eastern Europe. For the past 10 years he has raised money for Burren Chernobyl Project and this is unlikely to change.
“I think it is a very good project and I will keep doing it for them until I finish doing it. I think they are a great charity,” Pat concluded.