Galway Bay Swim sees 146 swimmers cross the bay for Cancer Care West

The annual Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim took place on Saturday 21st July. The swim which is now into it’s 13th year has become one of Ireland’s biggest and longest one day swims. The swim started with just three swimmers in 2006, had again sold out this year, with 146 swimmers beginning their swim in Auginish in Co. Clare and finishing at Blackrock Diving Tower in Salthill. The swim is a distance of roughly 13 kilometres (if you were to swim straight).

Hundreds of people came down to Blackrock Tower in Salthill to welcome the victorious swimmers home from 12 noon. The swim which attracts swimmers from across the world saw a total 65 solo swimmers and 65 relay swimmers taking part in teams of 2, 3 and 4 swimmers. Since the swim began 13 years ago, 569 people have swam the Bay, and this year again it will have been a mixture of swimmers who have completed the swim every year as well as some complete novices.

Safety as always was a priority for the swim, and would not have been possible without the maritime community in the West. Each swimmer taking part needs a boat to follow and to track their swim. Ciaran Oliver from Galway Bay Boat Tours expertly coordinated all the boats across the bay.

Galway Bay Swim

The swim has become one of the most important fundraising initiatives for West of Ireland charity Cancer Care West. This year the event is hoping to raise close to €120,000 through swimmers raising funds and awareness independently, as well as bucket collections that were happening throughout Saturday at the event. Spectators and swimmers were treated to refreshments by Mr Waffle and all the money that was raised goes directly to Cancer Care West.

“Having helped to start the event back in 2006 with just 3 swimmers, the Thornton family are immensely proud to continue to be a part of what has become the biggest annual fundraiser for Cancer Care West. The event leans heavily on the large maritime community of Galway Bay and the businesses within our home village of Salthill. The event wouldn’t be possible without their help. For the swimmers, our swim offers the open water experience of a lifetime, and the opportunity to do their own little bit for the person in their lives that has been touched by Cancer. Everyone involved takes part in the event for their own special reason, and we are honoured that the memory of our mother Frances, who loved to swim, lives on through those making the annual crossing across Galway Bay”, said Kevin Thornton, son of Frances and one of the organisers of the annual Galway Bay Swim.

Last year’s swim raised €108,000 for Cancer Care West, and this money helped to fund the expansion of support services for cancer patients; including a counselling service for children, and a dedicated gym rehabilitation space for cancer patients.

Donations can still be made on line. You can find more details on: or on

Galway Bay Swim

Galway Bay Swim