Courtesy of Ned Denison, Cork, Ireland.

Martin Cullen (1952 – 2016) cast a benevolent and guiding light upon the Irish open water swimming community.

Ned Denison describes a mentor to many. “Martin was an Irish open water swimmer, official observer, member of the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association, a prolific marathon swim organiser, support crew member, reporter and administrator in every Irish province while extending his reach to Dover.

He organized the 5 km Challenge Swim, the 1 km Fun Swim, the 15 km Challenge Swim, the Irish National 10 km Championship Swim, the Cleggan-to-Inishbofin Swim, Inishbofin, the Irish 10 km and 15 km Championships, and Irish 5 km and the Lough Sheelin Irish National Swims. He also participated in English Channel relays in 2004 and 2005.

He led the acceleration of marathon swimming at the turn of the 20th century in Ireland.”

His impact is easy to track. “From 1990 to 2004, there was an average of one English Channel solo success a year or 19 in total. Part of his legacy is the increase of English Channel soloers from Ireland at an average rate of more than seven per year since 2005 – 81 in 11 years for a total of 100 to date.

Cullen made major contributions that had long-term impact in Ireland: he organized eight channel relay teams in 2004 and 2005, started the 8-mile (12.8 km) Inishbofin Island Challenge and 19.3 km (12-mile) Killary Harbour race, organised a Channel dinner in Dublin Castle, and led the way in generating media attention for the sport.

He is revered as one of the fathers of Cork marathon swimming.”

Footnote: On January 5th 2018, he was inducted as an Honour Swimmer in the Hall of Fame – Marathon Swimming Ireland.

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