Swim Ireland Bringing People Together Through Sanctuary Swimmers Groups

Photo Courtesy: Swim Ireland

Swim Ireland Bringing People Together Through Sanctuary Swimmers Groups

Swim Ireland has brought together nearly 100 swimmers from 19 countries via its Sanctuary Swimmers group.

The partnership between Swim Ireland and Sanctuary Runners has extended the latter’s concept to the water. Swimmers from 19 countries are part of five groups of 18 to 22 people each that meet to swim in the sea. They included Irish swimmers and people new to the country, including refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants.

The “solidarity through swimming initiative” launched last year and began its second season in July in Bray. The emphasis is on the physical and mental healthy of Irish swimmers, both those native to the Ireland and those that have come there.

“Through our vision of ‘An island of swimmers’ we believe it is vital to increase the opportunities for people to swim regardless of their age, background or ability,” Sarah Keane, the CEO of Swim Ireland, said in a press release. “Sanctuary Swimmers is a programme that speaks right to that vision; through it, participants are learning an important life skill, making new connections, integrating into communities and are doing it in a fun and safe environment. This is what swimming is all about. We are delighted to grow the programme from last year and look forward to the wave of solidarity rolling right across the country in the years to come.”

Sanctuary Swimmer groups took to the water in Salthill, Galway, Myrtleville, Cork, Wicklow, Dunmore East, Waterford and Dollymount Strand, Dublin. Newer swimmers had the opportunity to learn from experienced swimmers, including a dedicated Swim Ireland instructor. Gear was supplied by PortWest, an outdoor company based in Mayo.

“There’s something about being in the sea together that empowers people to learn, to take the plunge and to cherish the moment,” Sanctuary Runners founder and CEO Graham Clifford said. “The adrenaline rush, conquering the initial coldness, the smells, the feeling of liberation. Many of our swimmers live in confined settings, some have negative views of the sea because of previous traumas, others may not have been in the sea for years, but because of the Sanctuary Swimmers inhibitions are overcome, serenity and calm is restored and, most importantly, new friendships are created.”

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