There are a number of locations that appear repeatedly in lists of ‘Best Open Water Swims’ and the Forty Foot Pool at Sandycove just south of Dublin is one of them.
Our visit was timed perfectly on a holiday Monday to coincide with a hugely popular 10km running event and we were detoured around in circles before we finally found a small side road and a place to park. It was the perfect morning for the run, bright, some sunshine, some wispy and some more substantial clouds with a light breeze. Perfect for swimming too.
I had a preconceived idea that the pool was somehow more enclosed and more isolated however it nestles in a shallow cove below the James Joyce Tower and is overlooked by houses. The pale yellow granite has been smoothed and rounded by the sea and built upon to create a sheltered avenue to the sea with a high wall southwards and double sided, canopied changing spaces opposite. At the water’s edge several sets of steps have been made, also much worn by the sea, with handrails that are also showing the effect of time and tides.
Being a public holiday and with the sun out it was busy whilst not actually at capacity, people coming and going, many taking just a 5 minute plunge, others clearly intent on a longer swim, but the number of people probably held consistently at about 50.
The water was clear as we have come to expect over the last week with sufficiently good visibility that the rocks beneath the water can be clearly seen, those close to the surface scoured clean whilst those that are deeper are wreathed in kelp. It is perhaps no surprise then that beneath notices saying it is dangerous to dive in swimmers of various ages are doing just that. The clear water certainly invites it and though it has a slightly chill bite the sunshine more than compensates.
Heading to the left I can see back into the bay and here the water has a quite a swell sloshing up over the rocks then surging back and creating clouds of bubbles whilst the kelp fronds flap only lazily safe in the depths. Then, circling wide I head into the stiller water and around the towering isolated rock though here the water is shallow and I keep bumping into submerged rocks so I suspect at low tide this is all part of the beach. The sea bed is however cut by several deeper gashes each walled with kelp and a shoal of sands eels scatters for cover as I get too close.
Afterwards we sit in a sunny spot sheltered from the wicked chill breeze that has got up and eat chocolate brownies as if there was any way the swim could otherwise be improved upon.