Fergal Somerville of the Leinster Open Sea Committee will speak at the Global Open Water Swimming Conference this weekend. After completing his North Channel crossing earlier this summer, he continues to help out in the sport.

Last week, he served as the observer for an unprecedented 12 km swim by Gary Fitzgerald of the Half Moon Swimming and Water Polo Club from Kish Lighthouse in Dublin Bay to the Forty Foot in Dun Laoghaire. The marathon swim was Fitzgerald’s first long swim. The 24-year-old finished the swim in 4 hours 30 minutes to commemorate his inspirational manager and friend, Arthur Dunne of Dublin’s Half Moon Swimming and Water Polo Club who was 42 years old when he passed away.

Somerville recalls, “When Gary was a youngster, Arthur declared that he would one day be the first to swim from the Kish to Dublin and that if Gary and his brother Mark were old enough they could join him. Sadly, Arthur never got round to doing the ‘Kish‘, but his protegé never forgot the goal. Last Friday he paid the finest tribute to his idol and created an iconic swim that will for years to come be known as the Arthur (Dunne) swim. What a great honour to be part of this fantastic achievement.”

Fitzgerald was guided by his father David, a former national water polo coach, and his brother Mark. “Shane Moraghan, one of Ireland’s first English Channel swimmers, provided the expertise to help Fitzgerald push through to the end, but a light fog reduced visibility to approximately two miles in the beginning. The fog lifted as the swim progressed on a warm and sunny day. Gary was joined in the swim for 20 minutes by his brother Mark,” observed Somerville.

The swim was planned by David and Gary over a number of months. He was accompanied by a cabin cruiser with David as pilot, RNLI member Chris Watson as the pilot assistant, and Jimmy O’Beirne. All three are members of the Dublin Fire Service and are qualified paramedics. The swim was supported by Scott O’Brien two team members on the boat and Oisín Gough and Kirk Nuzum as the kayakers who directed Gary. The swim was in regular contact with the Port authorities, Coast Guard, RNLI and local craft. A RIB was pulled behind the boat and used at the finish to accompany the swimmer to the finish. Shane led the support team on the boat and kept a watchful eye on Gary throughout the whole swim.”

Upper photo shows Gary Fitzgerald by the Kish Lighthouse. Middle photo shows Gary with brother Mark and parents David and Helen. Lower photo shows the team.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association