Irish International Triathlete Aileen Reid(nee Morrison) training in Camlough
I did a lot of my channel training at ‘Crooked Lake’ Camlough. The lake is calm, sheltered, with easy access from a wide slipway, providing an ideal training ground.
I love the days when I do a long swim down the lake, seeing the sun stream down over Slieve Gullion. Aiming for the V formed by the two hills at the far end, swimming past an old pontoon on the right hand side, a favourite spot for herons to perch. As the winter deepened the local fishermen looked on in amazement as I stripped down to my cossie and waded into the cold water. Deep breaths as the cold chilled my skin, I would count –1 – 2 – 3 – GO! Off with a fast front crawl to generate some heat in my muscles on the 250m out to the first buoy, I would then settle into my stroke heading around the second buoy to complete a lap of 750m at the slipway.
A co-incidental meeting in Dover the week prior to my channel swim caused me to bump into a group of fellow Camlough ‘training ground’ swimmers returning from their successful stag do relay swim. Since then, this group of Camlough and Newry locals have been organising superb events at the lake.
This previously hidden gem in South Armagh hit the world stage when more than three hundred swimmers from all over Ireland and beyond joined the local community to continuously swim for nine days. On the 9th of the 9th 2009 the Guinness World Record for the longest ever relay swim was smashed.
Following on from that success Camlough Lake has grown in popularity and 2010 saw the inaugural Camlough Water Festival, a weekend of kayaking, water-polo, short swims, 5k and 10k swimming races.
Go down to the lake in the summer and you will find something of a carnival atmosphere with children paddling, swimmers and triathletes enjoying the water, you are likely to be welcomed by some hardy folk, including Bridgeen, Micky or Milo, who have been swimming there since the mid 80’s.
More on Camlough Water Festival www.clwf.eu
Words By Maureen McCoy
Photography By Paul McCambridge
Enter from the slipway on the Crossmaglen road, where you will see marker buoys forming a 750m loop from the slipway – further buoys have been added creating a variety of circuits, detailed on the map below. Newry Triathlon club have set up a container here providing a changing facility and storage for safety equipment. They run events through the year, triathlons and occasional night swims.
Above Open Water Swimmer Colleen Mallon
Course Map and Safety Information Below