The Lecale Big Swim and Paddle
Hundreds to Join the Lecale ‘Big Swim and Paddle’
6 village communities along the Lecale Coast, County Down, are inviting everyone to celebrate their beautiful beaches on 1 August with The Lecale ‘Big Swim and Paddle’ when hundreds of people are expected to take to the water, following the 'Big Swim and Paddle' from beach to beach from 11.30am in Killough to 2.15pm in Kilclief.
Have a dip, even if it just up to your knees, at Killough, Coney Island, Ballyhornan or Kilclief, or why not do all four?. The Ardglass Development Association has even laid on a 50-seater bus from Donard Park in Newcastle at 10.30am, and half the seats have already been taken by the Newcastle Sea Swimmers who are coming along to support the event. The bus will travel by coach from beach to beach encouraging people at each place to take the plunge - seats are available on a first come first served basis for anyone who does not want to join a convoy of cars.
The times have been staggered to allow people to go from beach to beach and follow the tide on Saturday morning the 1st August along the coast as follows;
- Killough Beach 11.30am – beside car-park on main street
- Coney Island Beach 12.15pm – limited parking – share cars and park on main road
- Ballyhornan Beach below beach car park 1.15pm
- Kilclief Beach below beach car park 2.15pm
The Strangford and Kilclief Residents Associations are organising soup and sandwiches for anyone who manages to get to the last beach at Kilclief about 2.30pm and will be ably supported by members of the Ballyhornan Development Association.
Village Associations in Killough, Coney Island, Ballyhornan and Kilclief have been running highly successful social media campaigns since their ‘mass paddle and swim-in’ campaigns last summer aimed at getting EU Bathing Water Status for their beaches. They have been supported by village associations in Ardglass and Strangford too.
Local people have been posting hundreds of family beach photos to the 4 village Facebook sites to prove the 4 villages regularly have over 100 people on their beaches during the summer bathing season to meet the EU criteria.
A ‘Big Swim and Paddle’ spokesperson Councillor Cadogan Enright explained “To qualify to EU bathing water status we need one picture a year with a minimum of 45 people in the water or 2 pictures of 100 people on the beach. Saturdays ‘Big Swim and Paddle’ is to give a big publicity boost to this year’s campaign ahead of nominating our local beaches later this year.”
“We are looking for dozens of photos for every beach including 100’s local people and visitors using our local beaches. Last year a fantastic 500 people turned out and we want to beat this figure this year on all 4 beaches”.
Newcastle swimmer, Pamela McClleland, says “Wild swimming is for health and happiness. "It is lifts our spirits and our souls. When we go into the sea we forget all about the land. After all, we all emerged from water originally”!
The villages have now gained funding through the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership (SLLP) to pursue applications for the ‘Green Coast Award’ and for ‘EU Bathing Water Status’. Caroline Nolan from the SLLP commented that her office is getting more and more enquiries about beaches on the Lecale Coast, with people wanting to find new ways to experience our coastal waters. "Lecale's Big Swim though is about families and people of all abilities just having some fun and supporting local people to get recognition for their fantastic beaches."
links to village Facebook campaigns;