Close on 100 swimmers are expected to take part in the Lough Mask Swim Challenge on Sunday, August 23, at 12noon – and all funds raised will go towards the Corrib/Mask Lifeboat Crew and the campaign to rebuild Ballinrobe Town Hall.

Swimmers of all levels of fitness would take to the water to complete one of the four designated distances – 175m, 750m, 1500m or 3000m. Sign-on is at Cahir Pier from 10.30am. There will be kayaks another vessels on the course to offer full support to all swimmers.

The event has been a huge success in recent years, with funds raised going towards the Corrib/Mask Lifeboat Crew. This year, the organisers have added Ballinrobe Town Hall as a second beneficiary.

“Last year, we had a record 71 swimmers, and we are hoping to build on that this year. There is huge public interest in the event. The first Lough Mask Swim Challenge we held was in 2009,” said Padraig Marrey, a member of the organising committee.

“Corrib/Mask Lifeboat Crew does exceptional work on the lakes of this region, and they also back this event every year by providing safety marshalling on the water. We are delighted to be able to support them again this year, and we are also very happy that the event can be used to raise funds for Ballinrobe Town Hall.”

Michael Sweeney, chairperson, Ballinrobe Town Hall committee, praised the Lough Mask Swim Challenge committee for selecting the hall as one of this year’s beneficiaries.

“We have recently applied for planning permission to rebuild the hall, which was knocked down over 15 years ago for insurance purposes. The hall will be a venue for the entire community, young and old, and many community organisations will put it to good use,” he said.

“We are shortly about to embark upon a major fundraising campaign, and it was a huge boost when the Mask Swim Committee voluntarily nominated us to receive some of the proceeds from the swim. We hope that other community groups can follow suit, as it will take a huge local effort to raise our portion of the funds needed.

“The new hall will cost in excess of €1.25m. We do not know just yet what public funding we will obtain. But, ultimately, there will be a requirement for a significant local contribution if we are to get the hall the entire community desires.”

Sponsorship cards are available from Ballinrobe town Hall committee (Michael Sweeney, Siobhan O’Malley, Sean O’Connell, Liam Horan, Rory O’Neill, Tony Walkin, Margot O’Shea, Michael Burke, Mary Jackson, Tim O’Sullivan, Gwen Costello, Des May, Sheena Duddy, Mike Finnerty, Emmet Humphreys, Cllr Damien Ryan, Cllr Patsy O’Brien).

“We urge people who are considering taking part in the swim to make a special effort to raise sponsorship. The money raised will be put to good use by Corrib/Mask Lifeboat Crew and ourselves,” added Michael.

All swimmers will wear a wetsuit. T-shirts and swimming hats will be sponsored by Treacy’s Pharmacy and John Craddock Electrical, Ballinrobe. There will be music and refreshments on the pier after the event. “The message we want to get out there is that this is a day out at the lake for swimmers and spectators, and all are welcome to join in the fun,” added Padraig.

The winner of the event will receive the Msgr Shannon Perpetual Cup, sponsored by the Baron of Kilmaine. Group training is currently taking place at Cahir Pier on Tuesdays and Fridays at 8pm. To collect sponsorship cards, call to Craddock Electrical or Sli Nua Careers. Any swimmer who raises €50 or more in sponsorship gets free entry into the event.

Further details are available on the Mask Swim Challenge Facebook page.

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