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Ned Denison runs the legendary Cork Distance Week training camp in Ireland, where swimmers contend with whirlpools, jellyfish swarms and dead seagulls – as well as the infamous ‘torture swim’. Crispin Thorold braved the waters of Sandycove
Ned Denison checks swimmers into the water

Sandycove – a small, grassy and windswept island just off the south coast of Ireland – is easy to miss. It’s only 200 metres from shore, and is nestled in the western entrance to Kinsale harbour in County Cork. Until not so long ago the island was known mainly for its resident flock of feral white goats, but one day in 1995 a man visiting from Dublin decided to try to swim around it. From that adventure, Sandycove has developed into one of the main global hubs for Channel swimmers.

So far 136 people have circumnavigated Sandycove and completed an English Channel solo, a record for training grounds that is probably only surpassed by Dover harbour. Sandycove is also the base for Cork Distance Week, the very toughest of Channel swimming camps, which over the course of nine days challenges even the most established marathoners with cold-water swims in jellyfishinfested seas, through inland lakes, up brackish rivers and through rapids. And that is before mention of the infamous torture swim.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

Swimming challenges come in all shapes and sizes. In the pages of this issue we hear from swimmers from around the world who have pushed their boundaries to achieve remarkable things. From recovering alcoholic Paul Parrish’s inspiring English Channel swim to the Muslim Swim Sisters competing in their first open water race, outdoor swimmers make up a broad and accepting community. Whether you are training for a marathon swim or for your first one-mile event – or if you just love the freedom of swimming outdoors – this issue has inspiring stories, training advice and wild swimming recommendations for all kinds of swimmers. Are you feeling lucky? If you find a Golden Ticket inserted in this magazine you are the winner of a changing robe from dryrobe worth £129.99. Good luck! Enjoy the magazine and happy swimming. Jonathan Cowie Editor