The Beginning

In the August 3rd 1875 edition of the “Freeman’s Journal” it was announced that “Dublin Swimming Club” would hold its Annual Swimming Races in Salthill Baths on 21st August of that year. (In subsequent reports on the races, the club was referred to as “County Dublin Swimming Club”).

This appears to be have been a very colorful affair with a festive atmosphere: it included fancy dress and even a water polo match played with ball and mallets on “horses” made out of sealed casks with artificial heads and tails! This kind of atmosphere seems to have prevailed at all “Athletics in Aqua” or “Water Carnivals” held around Dublin Bay at the time. The Competition between Bangor and Dublin was keen, with Dublin swimmers travelling to the Bangor Galas and Bangor swimmers travelling to Dublin for the “Blackrock Races” which were held Annually from 1875: first in Salthill Co. Dublin (as announced in the “Freeman’s”) and from 1878 in Vance’s Harbour at the rear of Blackrock House.

Similar festivities in 1880 came to a tragic end when a young swimmer named Rutherford failed to surface in the long dive competition. Although it was later established that the young man’s death was due to heart failure, it undoubtedly highlighted the dangers inherent in swimming and the need for tighter constraints.

Perhaps this sad occurrence, together with Dublin’s W. R. Richardson coming second in the English Long Distance Championship, encouraged the members to become more formerly organised. In any event, forty of them attended an inaugural meeting at 5.00pm on Thursday 19th May 1881 in Sports Outfitter John Laurence’s premises at 63 Grafton Street (now Dunnes Stores). Mr. RM. Peter, Honorary Secretary of the Irish Rugby Football Union, chaired the meeting.

W. R. Richardson was elected Captain, Frank Kennedy Honorary Secretary and E. H. Andrews Honorary Treasurer. The Committee consisted of R. M. Peter, H. L. Robinson, K. Armstrong, R. Blakney and W.S. Collis. The new club adopted the rules of the Swimming Association of Great Britain to which it became affiliated.

On the 23rd July, the new club Captain, W. R. Richardson again competed in, and this time won, the English Long Distance Championship over five and three quarter miles from Putney Bridge to Charing Cross Railway Bridge in a time of one hour, twenty-one minutes and thirty-seven seconds. Dublin Swimming had arrived.

There followed two decades of success against a growing number of clubs. In Leinster; Sandycove (estd 1882), Clontarf (estd 1884) and Pembroke (estd 1894) and in Ulster; Bangor, Belfast Amateur, Wellington, Templemore, Ormeau, Swan and South Side.

Irish Championships were introduced at various venues without the permission of the English Swimming Association, which was of the opinion that Ireland like England (1886) and Scotland (1888) should form its own Association under the (British) Amateur Swimming Association (A.S.A). Perhaps to bring this about, the A.S.A. in 1893 directed that the 220yds Championship of Ireland, which Dublin proposed to hold, should not take place. Dublin S.C. did not hold this event but instead spearheaded a series of meetings which led to the formation of the Irish Amateur Swimming Association in Belfast on 25th November 1893, at which Messrs E. H. Andrews, W. Findlater, L. H. S. Beatty and R. M. Peter (all members of Dublin Swimming Club) represented Leinster. Mr. E. B. Andrews chaired the meeting, which elected the following as first officers of the new association: President R. Kirkpatrick (Ulster), Vice Presidents E. H. Andrews, E. F. Bunyon (Ulster), Honorary Secretary R. M. Peter, Honorary Treasurer W. Findlater, Auditors L. H. S. Beatty, F. Wilson (Ulster). Subsequently Andrews (1895) Findlater (1897) and Peter (1901-03) were elected President. In all, ten members of the Club have been honoured with this position. The Club also produced a succession of outstanding champions and Water Polo players: Richardson, Andrews and L. H. Beatty were all multiple Irish Champions prior to 1893.

The club benefited over the years from a number of key benefactors, among these was Patrick Shaw. He owned a Military & Merchant Taylors at 17A Dawson Street (corner of Molesworth Street). In 1880 he received an order from the Empress of Austria for Coachman Liveries, testament to the quality of the goods he supplied. He wasn’t a committee member of Dublin Swimming Club so we don’t know how or why he became such a great supporter of the club. In May 2015 the club – via Facebook – received information about the 1887 trophy (pictured below) – it had been in Malta and then Scotland. We assumed initially it was the only one as all other old club trophies (including the oldest swimming trophy in Ireland) are perpetual, i.e. each new annual winner getting it for their year of victory.

The Shaw Cup

The Shaw Cup was competed for the 110 / 109 yards handicap (depending on venue). We discovered that Mr Shaw donated a new trophy every year from the years 1882 – 1905. The design remained similar each year, certainly for first 15 years at least. The first winner was Richard (Dick) Armstrong in a time of 1:26.2 from scratch, 17 competitors took part and it was held at Cranfield’s Baths, Irishtown 23 May 1882. The 1893 winner was Frank Kennedy 1min 51, 1884; H. Moore, 1885 – 1887; WJ Langley (off 15 secs). The 1887 trophy which the club has, was won by W.J. Langley at Tara Street Baths (where most of the races for it were held) on 23 May 1887. 1889 J.F. Healy, 1890 S.C. Harris, 1891 and 1892 A.T. Orr, 1893 M. Fitzgibbon and 1894 C. Williamson.

Shaw Cup 1887

In the period 1893 to 1914 of the 80 Irish Championships swum, Leinster won 66, and 54 were won by just five swimmers: H.M. Dockrell (D.S.C.) 6, Oscar Conway (D.S.C.) 9, R.W.McCabe (Sandycove) 9, Jim Beckett (Pembroke) and George Dockrell (D.S.C.) 20. See this link for detail on the club’s early characters and the then swimming environment presented at the 2014 AGM here.

Early Characters of Dublin Swimming Club

George Dockrell was born on 22 October 1886 in Rathdown, Co Dublin. He was 4th born son of Sir Maurice Edward Dockrell, a prominent politician and merchant, and Margaret Sarah Dockrell (née Shannon). George was without question the outstanding Irish swimmer of his era. He was educated at Trent College, Long Eaton, Derbyshire [1899–1904] and at Trinity College, University of Dublin [1906–1909]. He won his first Dublin S.C. title in 1901, aged 15 – the Dudgeon Cup for the 150 yards handicap, off a handicap of 45 sec. He won this Cup again off scratch in 1904. He also won the Ormonde Cup for the Dublin S.C. 220 yards championship in 1905. His brothers Henry Morgan Dockrell and Kenneth Brooks Dockrell were also prominent swimmers in Dublin S.C.

In October 1905 George Dockrell went to the USA where he trained for six months with one of the foremost American swimmers, Charles Meldrum “Charlie” Daniels [220 yds, 440 yds and 5 x 50 yds relay Olympic Gold medallist at the 1904 St Louis Games, 100 m Gold medallist at the 1906 Intercalated Games in Athens and 100 m Gold medallist at the 1908 London Games]. Daniels perfected the Australian crawl by adding a six-beat kick, to be renamed the American crawl, the front crawl freestyle stroke still used today.

Of the 25 Irish Freestyle Swimming Championships George Dockrell entered, he won 21 titles, setting Irish records in seven of his wins. George Dockrell was the Irish 100 yards Freestyle champion five times in 1905–1908 and in 1910. He won the 220 yards championship in six consecutive years from 1906 –1911. He took the 440 yards title six times in 1905–1908 and 1910–1911 and the 880 yards championship four times in 1906–907 and 1910–1911. In 1906 and in 1910 he held the titles at all four Irish championship distances [100 yds, 220 yds, 440 yds and 880 yds]. At the Amateur Athletic Union Swimming Championships of America in 1906 he took Bronze medals in the 440 yards and 1 mile swims. At the Amateur Swimming Association Championships of England in 1908 he took the Silver medal in the 100 yards freestyle and the Bronze in the 220 yards championship.

At the London Olympic Games in 1908, only 4 swimmers qualified from the semi-finals to the final. Dockrell placed 3rd in his semi-final with the 5th fastest time overall.

In 1909 at the World Swimming Championships in Paris, George Dockrell took the Gold medal in the 100m Freestyle. This cap may have worn by him to / at the games. It came up for sale in 2014 but alas the club missed the opportunity to purchase it. George Dockrell was also an accomplished water polo player. He was capped for Ireland eight times and for Leinster nine times. He won five Leinster Senior Cup and five Leinster Senior League Championship titles. He captained Dublin University S.C. to Leinster Cup triumph in 1909. Dockrell won the League and Cup double twice, with Dublin S.C. in 1905 and Dublin University S.C. in 1911.

Cap, likely given to George for the Olympics – club narrowly missed out on purchasing it some years back

George Dockrell joined the army in December 1914 as a 2nd Lieutenant, serving in the 9th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps [The Rifle Brigade]. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1915, to Captain in 1918, and to Major in 1919. He was severely wounded in Flanders in 1915 and died on 23rd December 1924 at the Officers’ Hospital, Richmond, Surrey, as a lingering consequence of these shrapnel wounds to his back. Major George S. Dockrell was awarded an O.B.E. (Military) for meritorious service. Further information about some of the many interesting early club members is included towards the end of this document. More info about his military past can be seen at https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/155278-dockrell-george-shannon-obe-major-rifle-brigade-9th-battalion/

Thomas ‘Hayes’ Dockrell (nephew of George) was a prominent water polo player and swimmer with Dublin University Swimming Club and Dublin Swimming Club, gaining 11 caps for Ireland from 1925 to 1933. He was the Irish mile freestyle champion in 1923 and 1924, and in the latter year, at 880 yards. He was only 15 when he won the Liffey Swim in 1922. He represented Ireland in water polo at the 1928 Olympics. Having studied medicine at Trinity College Dublin he later took up a post at a hospital in Northampton, and attained the rank of colonel during World War II. He was elected mayor of Northampton in 1967. Source: olympedia.org

In 1917 the club added a ladies section branch. A new trophy was introduced – the Dublin Swimming Club Ladies Branch Championship Series Cup. This may be the oldest ladies swimming trophy in Ireland. The first 50 yards club championship was won in 1917 by Miss K. Kelly who beat Miss Phillips and Miss Carr in a time of 43 seconds. Miss I. Egan would win the club championship from 1919-1921, while M. D. Dockrell won from 1924-1929, after which Sheila O’Neill dominated from 1930-1937. Also in 1917, the Leinster ladies championships were held for the first time and the club also had a ladies water polo team in 1917.

The 1920s

Dublin SC was dominant in water polo throughout this whole period and reached its zenith in the 1920’s. Noel Purcell was a regular on the Irish team from 1910 to 1927 and again in 1932. He won Ireland’s first Olympic Gold medal as a member of the Great Britain Team in 1920 and in 1924. He captained the Irish team which included fellow Dubliners M.A O’Connor, J. A. O’Connor and N. Judd.

In 1928, the Tailteann Games took place at a revamped Blackrock Baths. Articles of the day bemoaned the fact that other countries had increased the gap on Ireland. Marguerite Dockrell (pictured) did however make the final of the 100 yards and another club member Eileen McElwee completed in the the third of three heats. From additional research re Eileen McElwee we also know there was a McElwee Cup in DSC which was contested for in a 200m crawl handicap (mixed), presumably the cup was donated by Charles Bushby McElwee and his wife. It was competed for from 1928 until 1982. Mrs Charles Busby McElwee (Emma McElwee née Cole) was on the Ladies Committee of DSC. Eileen Dora McElwee was a member of the DSC Flying Squadron quartet that won the Leinster Championship in 1930. She is also known to have taken part in a diving competition at the Greystones Gala in 1931. Other members of the relay team, known as a flying squadron at that Pembroke gala which Dublin won in 1930 were Margaret Dockerell, Miss L. Quinn and Miss S. O’Neill.

Margaret Dockerell
Marguerite Dockrell

The 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam saw Ireland field another polo team, which included Dubliners N.Judd, T.M. Dockrell, M.A O’Connor and J. O’Connor. In addition, it included Ireland’s first female aquatic competitor in the person of sixteen years old Marguerite Dockrell (DSC). She dominated the Irish national championships from 1926 – 1930, winning the 100 yards freestyle in 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1933 and 220 yards title in 1927, 1928, 1929, and 1930. These were the only Irish titles for ladies at the time; she was the darling of Irish swimming in that period. She went on to marry and was later known as Mrs Mason and lived in Dorset, England. See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marguerite_Dockrell

The first Liffey Swim took place in 1920. Click here for the famous Yeats painting from 1923.

The 1930s and Onwards

With the growth in the number of clubs and improved facilities, Dublin SC’s share of Championships was reduced but Diarmiud Murtagh in the 1930’s, Bill Hawkins, Gilda Deane and Kathleen McNally in the 1940’s, Peader Hyland in the 1950’s, Liam Loughman and Grainne McManus in the 1960’s, Eileen Gallagher, Deirdre Kenny, Grainne Friel, Catherine Owen, Valerie and Christine Fulcher and Pat Crowe in the 1970’s and 1980’s all contributed to Dublin’s success at Irish level.

Annual membership booklets were provided to member in times past, and some are in the photo below, as is a Dublin hat from more recent times – the 2000s.

The 1950s

In a short history compiled in the 1980s, it was stated that Dublin had endeavoured to participate in every section of the sport and at all age levels. This was described as both its strength and its weakness. While successful, the club had not specialised, and in so doing, had foregone dominance in any single aspect of the sport; but in retaining its broad church, had survived when many more of the successful clubs had come and gone. In the 1950s Peadar Hyland was an Irish backstroke and freestyle champion and inter provincial water polo player, Paddy O’Neil in freestyle and Joan Lucas in backstroke were all so successful.

The club’s 75th anniversary took place in The Crofton House Hotel on January 20, 1956. Mynda Myres and her Orchestra provided the entertainment with dancing from 9pm to 3am. A full dance programme was provided starting with the quickstep, the song ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ and finishing with the 24th dance, also a quickstep to ‘High Society’.

The 1960s
Among the successes of the 1960’s were Liam Loughman who was Irish breaststroke and freestyle champion and Grainne McManus, Irish diving champion.

The 1970s

In the 1970s there were a number of championship class swimmers and divers in the club – Deirdre Kenny (breaststroke), Ciaran O’Driscoll (breaststroke and butterfly, Grainne Friel (diving). All succeeded at national level with Eileen Gallagher winning the Irish senior ladies championship in that period, while Kevin Barron (breaststroke and butterfly), John Fitzgerald (breaststroke), Eoin O’Malley (backstroke), Peter Pechesi (breaststroke) and Felim O’Maloain (backstroke) were all placed at national level.

In 1977 the club introduced masters swimming – swimming for the over 25s (now over 19s) to Ireland. In winning at these championships club members Joan Lucas Quilligan, Margaret McGoldrick, Maeve Kenny, Peadar Hyland, Liam Loughman, Neil Kennedy and Fergus Barron demonstrated they still retained much of their talent from their younger years. Barron and Kennedy were also successful at the English Masters Championships.

With the closure in c1973/1974 of Tara Street Baths, the club was compelled to look elsewhere for a training pool and ‘finally selected Templeogue College Pool’ for its three-hour Sunday session. Despite the fact that ‘conditions in Tara Street were primitive’ it was an important pool in the club’s history. The club also had a session in Terenure pool on a Wednesday night but in 1974 closed its Friday night session in Glenalbyn pool due to poor attendances. The pool hire for Terenure and Templeogue was eight pounds and members were charged 15p per swim session they attended. This information was included in the 1973-74 Club Secretary’s Report.

Membership books from 1881 onwards

The 1980s

Younger swimmers coming through in the club in the 1980s included Chris Carty, Conor McEvoy, Mairead Doran, Louise Keogh – under 11 breaststroke champion and record holder – John Moloney, Pat Dolan and Sharon Dolan.

A centenary committee “loosely made up” of the following comprised Neil Kennedy, Gay Moloney, Peadar Hyland, Bill Hawkins, Fergus Barron, Liam Loughman, Seamus Soden, Mr J O’Driscoll, Eileen Keogh, Eileen Foley, Maeve Kenny, John Fitzgerald and Eamon Murphy. The 100th AGM took place on December 7 1980 in The North Star Hotel, Amiens St. A centenary gala was held in Newpark Pool in Blackrock and a centenary 5 a side water polo tournament was held on February 21 1981. The centenary banquet was held on May 19 in the Law Society, Blackhall Place with the President of the IASA and the Province Presidents of Ulster, Leinster and Connaught all in attendance. Also present was Mrs Moire Cody, a prominent member of Dublin SC during the forming of the Ladies section of the club.

This plaque was presented by the IASA to the club in 1981 to mark the club centenary.


Water Polo

It would appear that Dublin SC first competed in the Leinster Water Polo Cup in 1895 as there is a newspaper report stating that the club had taken a decision to enter a team. Prior to 1895 the Blackrock Aquatic Polo Club (BAPC) was the waterpolo arm of Dublin SC and the Annual Gala was organised conjointly under the auspices of DSC and BAPC. Dublin SC were Leinster Cup Champions in 1900 (Irish and Scottish Water polo champions), click here for a photo of that team. Another photo from that period is below.

See also the 1920s section above.

Later the Water Polo part of the Club was also successful. Pat Crowe, Martin Bowers and Gerry Bohan were capped for Ireland.

The junior boys won the Leinster under 16 championship in 1979 and again in 1980 and also won the Irish championship in 1980. Three of the term – Robert Courtney, Ciaran O’Driscoll and Chris Carty were Leinster Junior Interprovincials. The senior men’s team were in division 1 and the club also had a division 11 team. In the 1980s club members Pat Crowe and Martin Bowers were Irish internationals. A ladies water polo team was established c1973 in a bid to retain girls in sport. They were league champions in 1979 and 1980. Six of the Dublin ladies team including Isolde Goggin, AN Other, Connolly, Sandra Trappe and Ann Marie and were Leinster Interprovincial players. Other players were Eimear Goggin, Paula and Catherine Murphy, Catherine and Madeline Connolly and Eileen Davis, Anne Bergin and Geraldine Dunleavy. In 1978 the team played in Liverpool and was the outstanding team of the competition, scoring 30 goals and conceding only one.

Development of Masters Swimming

In 1977, a Committee consisting of Gay Maloney, Peader Hyland, Neil Kennedy, Harry McEvoy, Des O’Dwyer and Fergus Barron introduced Masters swimming to Ireland. Dublin’s Claire O’Dwyer has proven to be Ireland’s most successful Masters swimmer with both European and World Championship records to her credit.

Claire O’Dwyer

In 1991 she competed in the 50 – 54 years age group in the European Masters in Coventry, winning the 50Free, 100Free and 50Fly and setting European records in the 50Free and 50Fly. Since then, Claire has competed across the globe: from the USA to New Zealand, medaling frequently in World and European Championships in both the Pool and Open Water events. In particular she won Gold in Montreal and Sheffield. Claire in 2014 remains the only Irish swimmer, young or old, to have set a FINA swimming world record and continues to hold c50 Irish records in four separate age categories. She was honoured for her achievements by Swim Ireland in 2013.

Claire winning yet another prize in 2011, can you name the four ‘major’ winners in this pic?

Club Gala – Blackrock and World Records

The galas covered every distance from 50 yard sprint (Blackrock Baths was a 50 yard pool), to 800 yards and included a swim outside of the Baths to the Pole and back. This is believed to have been the start of the Club Open Sea race which we have today. Dublin SC also ran springboard diving 1 metre and 3 metre competitions which were held as part of the overall galas in Blackrock Baths. Click here for a photo of the famous Eddie Heron diving in Blackrock.

A video here from 1942 IASA competition at Blackrock shows both diving and swimming competition and makes reference to Dublin members M O’Kelly and M Coyne in the 12 July final of the ladies 220 yard championship.

On July 12 1957, at the club’s first international gala for many years, held in Blackrock Baths, “we introduced Ireland to two Dutch wonder swimmers”. Mary Kok – between 1954 and 1957 set nine (mostly short course) world records in various freestyle, butterfly and medley events, six of them within one year (1955). Incredibly at the Dublin SC gala she broke the 100m freestyle world record. Lenis De Nijis was the 220 yards and 200m backstroke world record holder and set a new world record at the gala for 100m backstroke.

Club Open Galas – Pool

The first (1977) and second (1978) Dublin Masters’ Galas were held in Dublin’s Iveagh Baths before the move to Sportsco in Ringsend in 1979. The club had previously held galas in the Iveagh Baths also, and there is a gala ticket in a photo above from the 1933 event. Galas were held in Sportsco until 1992 when the I.A.S.A decided that membership fees should be collected from Masters in 1992. This decision led to considerable heated debate within the club and the decision was made not to run that year’s gala. It turned out that would be the last such open gala organised by the club though there were subsequently some inter club galas (e.g. with Limerick) and the Club did run a Relays gala (pre 2000, to add date). It should be noted that an outstanding achievement by Fergus Barron, who organised these open galas, was to get the David Wilkie, the 1976 200m breaststroke Olympic champion (and silver in the 100 b/s) to take part in 1980. Wilkie was the 200m b/s world record holder at the time also.

The club ran a Master’s Relay Gala in Newpark Swimming Pool, Blackrock as part of the celebrations for the centenary year. This took place on May 16, 1981. Neil Kennedy, the Club President, welcomed swimmers and thanked all present for making the gala possible. The trophy pictured below was presented to Dublin SC to mark the club’s centenary by the ASAI, the precursor to Swim Ireland on May 19 1981.

The club re-established the Dublin SC open gala on September 28, 2014 as The Dublin Masters Sprint Gala. It was largely organised by Ceall O’Dunlaing and ran until 2018 and took place at each year Balrothery Community Pool, Tallaght. The 50m breaststroke event had a special trophy for the swimmer who got closest to a world record (using an algorithm based on one’s age, sex) are named in honour of our late Patron Fergus Barron who died in 2013.

The following is the cover and back of the club’s gala brochure from 1985 in the ESB Sportsco pool in Ringsend, Dublin 4.

Head Coaches

Fergus Barron had many club roles over the years, and was also head coach and oversaw the development of the junior club. Many masters swimmers in a variety of clubs still credit his commitment to their success and continued passion for the sport. Among the top swimmers then was Louise Keogh who swam for Dublin for years in early 1980s, and won Leinster and Irish titles in breaststroke.

Maeve Dunne took over as head coach in 1990 and the success of junior swimmers continued, among them Caoimhe Church; ? Byrne; Mark, Niamh and Michelle Dunne and others (other names to be added). Eileen Conway coached the juniors for many years until the junior training sessions ceased in 2014.

Dublin SC began its coaching for masters’ sessions in the late 1990’s. Jack Meade was succeeded by Fergus Barron c2005 and later Paul Collins took over from c2008 to 2013. The club took the decision to increase the number of sessions and pay masters coaches in 2013. Ewa Warzycha and Sinead McBreen came on board as a result. In late 2015 Jack Meade returned to Dublin’s Coaching set-up, taking over from Sinead. Ewa Warzycha oversaw the UCD training until December 2018. Remi Baltrusmts, also of Wicklow SC has coached the UCD session from 2019, with Ceall O’Dunlaing coaching the Sportsco sessions from 2018 (and Belvedere sessions 2018 – 2019).

1970s – 2000s

The Dunne, Kenny and O’Driscoll families have been big contributors to the Club as competitors and administrators. Pat O’Driscoll was President of the Club and his wife was also Treasurer for several years and their children represented the club in competition. Noel Dunne is a former president, Maeve his wife has been a competitor and head coach, son Mark has been President and their children, including Mark, Michelle and Niamh have competed at junior and masters level successfully for the club. Eithne Kenny and Dolores Kenny (sisters of Maeve) have been competitors and were very involved on the committee front for many years while Matt Kenny (a brother) and Deirdre (sister) also competed successfully for the club.

Another big family name in Dublin SC is the Pickerings and they have the unusual distinction of providing three generations of swimmers at the same time. At many races c2011 – John, his daughter Sharon and her daughter Hayley all took part. John won the vets prize for several years at the Liffey Swim and was also a very good pool competitor. Indeed, he also won a race in Wicklow in the 2014 open water season.

In the 1990s and 2000s there was a greater focus at Dublin Swimming Club on open water swimming. The women’s team won the team award for the Leinster Open Sea league in 2007 and remained in second place for each consecutive year until winning again in 2013. The men’s team fared less well in this period but improved to second in 2013 and just missed out in 2018 and gain in 2019 – this time by a single point. Charles Harper won the 2008 Liffey Swim while Maria Quintanilla won in 2011 for Dublin SC. 2017 was the first time the male and female winners came from the same swimming club with Dublin SC’s Colin Monaghan and Ann Marie Bourke winning “the Duble”. In 2006 the club held a 125 year celebration at the Davenport Hotel in Dublin at which many generations of the club’s friends and members past and present attended.

In 1998, there were numerous Irish record holders among our masters swimmers:

Claire O’Dwyer21
Zandra Ball3
John Bailey1
Cyril Hardy9
Jackie Kearney9
Paul Emmett2
Jack Meade1

In the pool competition between 2000 and 2018 the following club swimmers are among those who have held Irish or Leinster records:

Swimmer Record
Claire O’Dwyer Irish and Leinster
Jack Meade Irish and Leinster
Mairín McDevitt Leinster
Jackie Kearney Irish and Leinster
Maeve Dunne Leinster
  … and a ladies relay record for the 200 medley.

Other Leinster record holders from Dublin Swimming Club in 2014 / 2015 and still in 2020 were: Eleanor O’Connor, Ceall O’Dunlaing and Niall O’Sullivan.

A men’s relay of Ceall O’Dunlaing, Niall O’Sullivan and twins Andrew and James Comerford claimed an Irish Masters national record on April 30, 2016 for the 4 x 200 men’s long course freestyle (120-159 years) in a time of 10.02.27. This would be broken again on April 7, 2018 with a new Dublin SC squad of Ceall O’Dunlaing, Niall O’Sullivan, Donal Crowe and Carlos Tendero in a time of 9.44.51. This second record was recorded as a FINA top ten time in the world for the year. In 2022, Adria Gill Sorribes claimed the national record for the 200m backstroke 25-29 age category. He bettered his time by a second at the Celtic Masters in 2023 in a new time of 2:18.57. See also section on Overseas Swimmers.

Keith Butler represented Ireland at the Special Olympics in Los Angeles in 2015. Keith won a Gold medal in the AQ 800M Freestyle Division M5.

The Open Water ‘Classics’

Members have won The Liffey Swim on 13 occasions. It is in the public domain that J.A. (Jimmy) Markey was one of two swimmers who won the race doing backstroke – in fact he didn’t (but the second placed swimmer – a backstroke champion did). Though not a winner of the event, mention must also be made of Jackie Kearney for his record of the most Liffey Swims swum (along with Paul Emmett of Half Moon – exact numbers disputed, though c50). Jackie first competed in the Liffey Swim in 1951. See link here for Jackie at the end of the 2004 Liffey Swim when he came second. The youngest ever female winner of the Liffey Swim was Mairéad Doran of Dublin SC who on 11 September 1979, at age 10, won on the Islandbridge course. The club won the double in 2017 – the first time this has ever been achieved – and also took ladies team prize that year.

Dublin City Liffey Swim Individual Wins

1979 Mairead Doran (old course) 1922 Thomas “Hayes” Dockrell
1993 Jill Donaghey 1942 Christoher P. Cloake
1994 Mary McDermott 1954 Jimmy / J.A. Markey
2003 Sandra Trappe 1962 Anthony (Tony) Byrne
2005 Molly Molloy 2008 Charles Harper
2011 Maria Quintanilla2017 Colin Monaghan
2017 Anne Marie Bourke 2022 Ken Dent

Of note for 2018 was that the club had a record 84 swimmers entered and 81 ultimately competing in The Liffey Swim. Ciara Doran who finished 3rd also had the fastest time in the ladies race that year.

Due to pollution problems, the Liffey race course was moved on occasion. Of interest to readers may be that Edward C. Kay (Dublin SC), the then President of Leinster Branch IASA, used his casting vote in favour of a return to the River Liffey in 1940 after the vote was tied 17 each for the Liffey and a course from Bray Head to Bray Harbour. So a representative of Dublin SC can take the credit for returning the race to the Liffey in 1940 after its sojourn at Bull Wall/Dollymount and Bull Wall/Clontarf Baths.

Dublin City Liffey Swim Team Wins

Men 1951, 1954, 1960, 1975 (2nd in 2005, 2022), 2023

Ladies 1979, 1981, 1982, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2021

We have had 13 individual victories in another classic, the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Race.

1933 Diarmuid Murtagh1983 Jacqueline Whelan
1934 Diarmuid Murtagh1984 Mairead Doran
1935 Diarmuid Murtagh1990 Sandra Trappe
1947 William Patrick Hawkins1991 Sandra Trappe
1949 William Patrick Hawkins1995 Claire O’Dwyer
1962 Nicholas Smith 2004 Niamh Dunne
2021 Dave Berry1977 Deirdre Harkness

Sandra Trappe has the added distinction of having won both the Liffey and the Dun Laoghaire Harbour races, indeed having won the Harbour twice. She, as of 2022, had it is thought, completed more Liffeys than any other female (missing just one due to illness). William Patrick aka Bill Hawkins, was successful twice in the Harbour and though not a Liffey winner, was the fastest swimmer in 1943, 1944 and 1948. Diarmuid Murtagh, who won three in row in the 1930s is credited as swimming for Dublin SC and Pegasus. Indeed, between 1932 and 1936 his affiliation is described variously as Dublin SC, Dublin University SC, Pegasus SC, the latter two also with Dublin SC and even Athlone SC (the family was from Athlone). The club has won the men’s team prize just once thusfar – in 1980 – but was second in 2019, 2022 and 2023.

In the early years, the Harbour course took the swimmers underneath and through the Carlyle pier and along the Coal Harbour pier. Club stalwart, George Sommerville, was one of Dublin’s representatives in those races. Indeed, there was also a men’s Dún Laoghaire Harbour Swim Sealed Handicap from 1937–1963 and George was the winner in 1956 with the club’s only other winner being E English. To read more about this great race see ttp://www.leinsteropensea.ie/harbour-race/

The Island Race is considered the ‘third major’ by many. It is however restricted in numbers. The 2km course is from Ireland’s Eye to Howth’s Balscadden beach. The current race trophy dates from 1931 when the race was established by Clontarf SC. Dublin SC however has the distinction of running a race on the same course in August 1893. There were 8 competitors. The first three home were:

  1. Oscar Conway (DSC and perhaps also Pembroke SC at the time) 21:04 [Prize presented by Lord Justice Gerald Fitzgibbon (1836-1909) of the Irish Court of Appeal] (Oscar Conway won the IASA 100 yards, 220 yards, 440 yards and 880 yards freestyle in 1897, the 440 yards and 880 yards in 1894, and the 880 yards in 1896)
  2. Maurice Fitzgibbon (DSC) [Received Silver tankard] (Hon Secretary of DSC in 1893, 1894 and 1896, Committee member 1897)
  3. William Frank Beckett (DSC) [Hon Treasurer of DSC in 1894 and 1895 and Captain of DSC in 1896]

A second race took place Saturday 1 September 1894, and newspaper reports confirmed that the prize given by Lord Justice Fitzgibbon for the winner was monetary – 3 guineas. The race finished at Howth Pier rather than Balscadden Beach. Thanks again to Cyril Smyth for this info with sources being The Irish Times and Freeman’s Journal. The race in both years appears to have been restricted to DSC members.

The club came into possession in 2017 of the 2nd prize – a tankard – with the name M Fitzgibbon – on it.

In 1962, club member Nick Swift won the Island race and in 1971 Jackie Kearney (RIP 2019) won. There have been no further Dublin SC winners, though Ceall O’Dunlaing won the prize for fastest swimmer in 2014 with a time of 21.36. Dublin men won the team prize in 1974, lead in by Ciaran Doran in 3rd, with Ambrose Donovan, D Davis and John Donovan completing the quartet.

The open water league also has an annual ‘Swimmer of the Year’, competition. Due to COVID 19, no league took place in 2020 or 2021. Notable recent achievements include:

2023: Niall O’Sullivan – 8th2023: Jessica Lamb – U40 (25-39)
2022: Douglas Ribero – 7th 2022: Jessica Lamb – U40 (25-39)
2018: Dermot Marron – Overall winner2019: Darina Barrett – 2nd overall and Masters prize
2017: Niall O’Sullivan – Vets prize2018: Jennifer Murrin – U40 (25-39)
2016: Niall O’Sullivan – Vets prize 2017 Jessica Lamb – Overall winner
2015: Niall O’Sullivan – Overall winner 2017: Sandra Trappe – 3rd
2013: Ceall O’Dunlaing – 3rd 2016: Jennifer Murrin – Overall winner
2013: Niall O’Sullivan – Vets prize 2016: Christine Mahoney – Super Master
2005: Matt Kenny – Vets prize 2015: Claire O’Dwyer – Super Vet
2004: Mark Dunne – Overall winner 2014: Mairin McDevitt – Super Vet
1996: Pat Aherne – Overall winner 2012: Sharon Pickering – Overall winner
1993: John Pickering: Vets prize 2010: Claire O’Dwyer, same points as winner, but given joint 2nd
2009: Sharon Pickering – 2nd
2007: Orla Doyle – 2nd
2006: Hayley Pickering – 3rd
2005: Deirdre Harkness – 2nd
1998: Sandra Trappe – 2nd
1997: Sandra Trappe – Joint winner
1995: Sandra Trappe – Overall winner
1983 Louise Keogh – Overall winner

Club of the Year – Leinster Open Sea Series

The women’s team has had significant success – winning the six in a row (Covid years aside) from 2016 – 2022 and before. The men won in 2004 and came close on a number of occasions, most notably in 2019, when losing by a single point to NAC Masters, but won again in 2023.

Year Men Women
20222nd Winners
20192nd Winners
20182nd Winners
20172nd Winners
20162nd Winners
20157th Winners
20078th Winners
20066th Winners
20052nd Winners
2004Winners2nd tbc
2002Not knownWinners
2000Not knownWinners
1983Not knownWinners

Christmas Swims

Fergus Barron also initiated an annual club Christmas Swim / Race in 1957 when it was held “in a small private cove in Seapoint”. This link to 1921 footage is likely that same location. It then moved to Blackrock Baths in 1964 where it continued until the baths closure in 1993. Former Olympian and swimming commentator Gary O’Toole took part in 1990. The Dun Laoghaire Baths was the venue from 1994 until 1996 when it was also closed. The annual swim has been an integral part of Club activity, both socially as well as competitively. The annual race has been held at Sandycove since c1997, but has moved from Christmas Day to St Stephen’s Day – due to the huge crowds that now go to the 40 Foot each Christmas Day. At its peak in 1977, 39 men and 22 women took part. Claire O’Dwyer won the inaugural women’s race in 1964 and participated each year for the next thirty years and more – “Its one way of getting out of making Christmas lunch I suppose” she told The Irish Times in 1996. The event has also helped to raise funds for the charity Rehab in the past. The trophy curiously for the men’s race is called the Player Wills cup – times have changed in many ways, but the tradition continues on.

Swimming Baths, Dun Laoghaire 1908

Channel Swims (English Channel) and Other Long Distance Swims

The Channel

In 1987 Charles Harper swam the channel as part of a four-person relay in 1987. He joined DSC in 2003 and undertook a successful solo crossing on August 9, 2009, completing the course in 14 hours 15 minutes.

On August 18, 2016 a four person team – Team Well Able – made up of Una Ann Ryan, sisters Sharon and Tara Smith and Ger Devin completed the crossing.

Therese Molyneux and Róisín Kelly – Team Well Able 2 – made a successful two person relay crossing on June 30, 2017.

Caitriona Kehily and Eilish Leader were part of the four person relay team – Myrtle Turtles – which landed in France on July 14 2016 (Bastille Day). They completed it in 12 hours 7 mins.

Barry O’Sullivan and Deirdre King made a valiant but unsuccessful two person attempt on 23 Sept 2017. They left Dover that morning, and after a very strong start, only bad weather prevented them from reaching the French coast.

In September 2018 a successful team crossing was undertaken. Team ‘Mná na Mara’ comprised Dublin SC Lady Captain Christine Mahoney and 2016 Swimmer of the Year Jennifer Murrin as well as Guinness SC members Colette Kelly and Kathryn Desmond.

Ger Devin made a successful solo crossing on September 26, 2018. After being blown off course mid race, he ended up swimming parallel to France for a time and finished after 16 hours and 41 minutes at Cherbourg. You can check out the superb podcast about this eventful crossing at https://vimeo.com/743683929

Barry O’Connor made a valiant attempt in October 2018 but after 10.5 hours in the water had to call a halt as a result of a shoulder injury.

The Viconauts team of DSC members swam as a relay team across the English Channel, finishing in France on the evening of June 22 2022 in a time of 18 hours 17 minutes. The swimmers were Cliff Redmond, Michael Crowe, Elena Green, Maurice Power and Kirstie McArdle.

On 13 August 2022, Therese Molyneux completed her solo attempt in a very strong time of 14 hours 50 minutes. In so doing she became the oldest (tbc) Irish female swimmer to complete the crossing.

On July 7 2023, team Snámh le Chéile, made up of DSC’s Liz Duggan, Louise Veitch, Marie Kelly and Sarah Dunleavy completed an English Channel relay with Templeogue’s William Ferguson, and Gabrielle Furlong from Sandycove. Swim time was 15hrs 13mins.

Lough Erne

2009: Charles Harper (17km)
2009: Rachel Doyle (10km) (also swmm the channel in 2016, sa a member of Phoenix)
2015: Jody Clarke (17km)
2018: Ciara Doran (17km)

Galway Bay –This swim from Aughinish in Co Clare to Palmer’s Rock in Salthill is a distance of roughly 13 kilometres. Dublin swimmers have done it in skins thusfar. Roisin Kelly 2015, 2018 and Barry O’Connor 2018 and Killian Doherty (former member) completed the event in 2022.

24 Hour Swim, London: In 2017 Ger Kennedy swam a mile every hour for 24 hours at a lido in London. He had completed a mile every hour for 12 hours at the Forty Foot in part preparation in April 2017 also.

Cleggan to Inisharc: 2003: Charles Harper


2018: Barry O’Connor: Fastnet to Schull in a time of 7 hours 47 minutes.

June 12 2023: Ger Devin: He set off from Fastnet at approximately 6.40am, making his way past Cape Clear and around Sherkin Island, landing at Baltimore at 3.30pm, a time of 8 hours 50.

North Channel (Northern Ireland to Scotland)

September 10 2023: Douglas Ribeiro in a time of 12 hours and 31 minutes. He is also the first Brazilian man to complete the swim.

September 10 2023: Corinna Nolan in a time of 16 hours and 30 minutes.

More information on their great swims can be found here

Club Patrons

  • Mairin McDevitt 2021 – (2024)
  • Gay Maloney 2014 – 2021 – (for a second time)
  • Fergus Barron c1990 – 2014
  • Gay Maloney ? – c1990
  • Mr Maurice Dockrell, former Lord Mayor of Dublin 1982
  • None elected 1974 – 1978
  • Mrs G Schorman 1966, 1966-67, 1967-68, 1970, 1970-71, 1971-72, 1973-74, 1974-75
  • Dr. W.H. Sexton 1957, 1958, 1960-61
  • Senator H.M. Dockerell 1951, 1953, 1955
  • H.M. Dockerell Esq., T.D 1942, 1943, 1945
  • W. Findlater Esq. 1939, 1940
  • W. Findlater Esq. and E.H. Andrews Esq. 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1937
  • E.H. Andrews Esq. 1925
  • Marquis of Ormonde 1881 – 1919

Dublin to Wexford (and Beyond?)

In the summer of 2020, with no competivie swims happening as a result of COVID, two club members set off on a novel swimming journey over the course of that summer. Starting in Blackrock, they worked their way down the east coast, in in bitesize sections, reaching Cahore in late September, a total distance of over 100kms. The journey continued into 2021 and all the detail is now available in a book by Ceall O’Dunlaing – “Blackrock to Slade, A Swimmer’s Camino”.

Club Presidents

In more recent years based on year October – September

  • Therese Molyneux 2023 – (2024)
  • Cliff Redmond 2022 – 2023
  • Gerry Monaghan 2020 – 2022
  • Mairéad Cashman 2017 – 2019
  • Ceall O’Dunlaing 2015 – 2017
  • Niall O’Sullivan 2011 – 2015
  • Mark Dunne 2008 – 2011
  • Elva Nic Phaidin 2006 – 2008
  • Noel Dunne 2001 – 2006
  • (Gap in info-To Add other(s) here)
  • Pat O’Driscoll 1998
  • Neil Kennedy 1981, 1982
  • W. McNally 1979-80
  • Mrs Connolly 1979-80
  • Tom Goggin 1976-77, 1977-78
  • Mrs O’Driscoll 1977-78 – Ladies
  • Mrs. Grealey 1976-77 Ladies
  • J. Byrne 1974-45, 1975-76
  • S. Soden 1972-73, 1973-74
  • Mrs Jet Dunleavy, 1972-73, 1973-74, 1974-75, 1975-76 – Ladies
  • Peadar Hyland 1970-71, 1971-72
  • Mrs S. Loughman, 1971-72 – Ladies
  • Mrs O Downes 1970-71 – Ladies
  • Mrs M Davis 1970-71 – Ladies
  • Gay Walsh 1967-68
  • P. Whelehan 1966-67
  • Mrs D. Walsh 1966, 1966-67, 1967-68 – Ladies
  • W. Hawkins 1960-61
  • M. Hawkins Esq. 1958
  • J.K. Pettit Esq. 1957
  • Dr. W.H Sexton 1956
  • P. O’Byrne Esq.1955
  • Mrs. W.H Sexton 1951, 1958 – Ladies
  • Mr W.H. Sexton 1945 and 1957 – Ladies
  • K.L. Schorman Esq 1951, 1953, 1954, 1953
  • Mrs K.L. Schorman Esq 1934, 1937, 1953, 1955, 1956 – Ladies
  • Miss M. Demery 1945 – Ladies
  • Dr. R.M. Corbett, M.A.O., F.R.C.P.I. 1942, 1943
  • Mrs. J.F. Kenny 1942, 1943 – Ladies
  • H.M. Dockerell T.D. 1935, 1937, 1939, 1940 (Henry Morgan) – He was also President of the Leinster Branch IASA 1926 –
  • Mrs E.M. Cody 1939, 1940 – Ladies
  • L.H.S. Beatty Esq. 1931, 1932, 1937
  • H.M. Dockerell Esq. 1933, 1934
  • L.H. Beatty Esq 1925, 1927, 1929, 1930
  • Mrs N.M. Purcell 1930, 1931, 1932, if F up 1933 – Ladies
  • Mrs. Noel Purcell, 1929 – Ladies
  • Mrs H.M. Dockerell 1925 – Ladies
  • Edward Henry Andrews 1881 – 1918

There are no longer separate Presidents and committees for the ladies and men’s sections of the club.

Other former club members identified for us by Jimmy Markey are Frank Summerville in the 1948/50 period. Others he referenced were Derek Pollard, Tommy Dorgan, Sean Nolan, Dermot Byrne, Harry McEvoy and William Patrick Parnell and others as referenced elsewhere on this page. Some of these swimmers helped in the development of masters in swimming in Ireland also.

Information about Other Notable Early Club Members

  • Anthony Traill, FTCD 1865, Provost TCD 1904–1919,  Chairman world’s first electric tramway Portrush to Bushmills 1883 (1 November 1938–15 October 1919)
  • James Edward William Theobald Butler, The Most Honourable 3rd Marquis of Ormonde, KP, PC, Order of the Crown of Prussia (First Class) (5 October 1844 – 26 October 1919)
  • Field Marshal Garnet Joseph Wolseley, 1st Viscount Wolseley, KP, GCB, OM, GCMG, VD, PC (4 e 1833 – 25 March 1913)
  • Richard M Peter, first Hon Secretary I.A.S.A. (Born Co. Dublin c.1853–Died 6 March 1909)
  • Sir Henry Cochrane, 1st Baronet Cochrane of Woodbrook, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Governor Director Cantrell & Cochrane Ltd, Alderman of Dublin (21 December 1936–11 September 1904)
  • James MacGregor Millar, Hon Sec DU Rowing Club 26 years, Adam Millar &  Co, Thomas Street, Licensed Grocers & Vintners Association (27 September 1849–30 April 1891)
  • Joseph Hume Dudgeon, stockbroker – his father Henry James Dudgeon was also a stockbroker (4 January 1855–31 August 1923)
  • Charles Barrington, Irish Mountaineer (1834 – 20 April, 1901); replaced on his death by Gerald P O’Leary as a Vice-President [Irish Times June 1, 1901, page 4]
  • Sir Maurice Edward Dockrell, Irish businessman and politician (21 December 1850 – 5 August 1929)
  • Rt Hon Colonel Edward R King-Harman, MP, Irish Nationalist and Unionist politician, MP Dublin County 1883, Under-Secretary for Ireland 1887 (3 April 1838 – 10 June 1888)
  • Thomas Vance JP (8 Nov 1860), Merchant, Blackrock House, Dublin (24 August 1812–16 October 1889)
  • Edward H Andrews, JP (1914), President Dublin Chamber of Commerce 1918, Andrews & Co Tea Merchants, DL Dublin (1917), Senator 1920-22 (15 November 1858–23 October 1937)
  • Joseph V Lahiff, Solicitor (died 7 September 1940, St Stephen’s Hospital, London)
  • Gerald P O’Leary, Bank Clerk (Born Co. Galway c.1862)
  • William Frank Beckett, quantity surveyor, father of Samuel Beckett (Nobel Laureate) [22 July 1871–26 June 1933)
  • Lewis HS Beatty, Merchant (Millar & Beatty, House Furnishers), died of  influenza, Treasurer of the Memorial Park Fund to honour the fallen in WWI (Born Co Dublin c. 1869–13 January 1933)
  • William Randal Cecil Richardson, Solicitor (Born Co Antrim c. 1852) Harold Percy Hodges emigrated to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada in 1892
  • Michael Joseph Bulger (Born Kilrush, Co. Clare 15 May 1867-20 July 1938), was the Chief Medical Officer for the Marathon at the 1908 London Olympic Games and was famously involved in the disqualification of the Italian Dorando Pietri, who became an international celebrity as a result
  • Margaret (Marguerite) Dockerell – first female Olympic swimmer for Ireland – in 1928, a feat not repeated again until 1968.

For further information about Officers of Dublin Swimming Club 1881-1905 click here


Overseas Swimmers who have Comepted for Dublin SC

This is an initial list which will be updated and improved in the future. Some are current members, others swam pre 2023.

  • Stuart Moncrieff, Scotland
  • Adam Nadolski, Poland
  • Bettina Kaspers, Denmark
  • Sara Sampaio, Portugal
  • Adria Gill Sorribes, Spain
  • Carlos Tenderos, Spain
  • Vanessa Dawes, England
  • Motohiro Yamada, Japan
  • Agathe Verro, France
  • Yves Michalet, France
  • Maria Quintanilla, Spain
  • Douglas / Doug Ribeiro, Brazil
  • Raine Rodrigues, Brazil

This club history has been put together with contributions / sources from Fergus Barron, Anne Barron, Cyril J Smyth, Fellow Emeritus, Trinity College Dublin, Paul Collins, Niall O’Sullivan, Sandra Trappe. It is in part thanks to archived materials provided by Mairin McDevitt and Robert Dunne in 2016, and a combined archive of materials from the late Neil Kennedy and Peadar Hyland, donated in 2017 by Mary Hyland and further information  provided by Anne Barron in 2020. 

This is a 2013 radio interview on Newstalk’s ‘Talking History’ about open water swimming and Dublin SC.

In 2016 Dublin Swimming Club established a club archive in Ireland. Newspaper clippings, gala programmes and more from the very early years had been kept in a scrapbook by an early member. This was passed down through a number of generations of club committees and to ensure its continued survival, the information is now located in the Dublin City Library sports archives at http://www.dublincity.ie/pearse-street-library. Those interested in seeing the physical archive can do so there. If you have old information or memorabilia we would love to hear from you also. Please contact the club at dublinswimmingclub@gmail.com The club is especially keen to identify Liffey related materials and stories involving past members. To provide or get information on other clubs you can email leintersopenseahistory@gmail.com

If you (re)joined Dublin SC in 1966-67 you would have read the following on your membership card:

Dear Clubmate,
You are now a member of the oldest and finest Club in Ireland. You are asked to uphold its traditions in every way possible. Your club colours are dark blue, light blue and white. All Swimming Costumes should be of standard design and blue in colour. All tracksuits should be dark blue in colour and bear the Club Badge. Club blazers and scarves are also available. You are requested to wear the Club colours whenever possible and to support all Club functions. If you are a competitor in a race or a member of a water polo team you should arrange to be in attendance at least 10 minutes before the scheduled start in time. The services of an expert coach or available to you every Saturday morning and you should avail of them. Your attendance in Blackrock baths and your participation in the club races is particularly requested. If you are a non-competing member you are especially welcome. If you are willing to help we have plenty of work for you to do.

Some things don’t change! 

Niall O’Sullivan – last updated 29/10/2022.

Information on Trophies

The Ormond Cup

This is the oldest cup in Irish Swimming.  It was presented to Dublin Swimming Club in 1882 for competition as a scratch event over 220 yards.  It was contested over that distance until 1982.  Its list of winners reads like a potted history of Leinster swimming.  Many winners have made swimming history both in the water and in administration.  Some of the earlier winners contributed to the founding of Dublin Swimming Club (1881), the Leinster Branch (1891) and the Irish Amateur Swimming Association (IASA) (1893).  More recently, winners contributed to the establishment of Irish Masters Swimming (1977). Many have been presidents of the Leinster branch and six were presidents of the I.A.S.A. Many have been outstanding Irish swimming champions and waterpolo players. One even won an Olympic gold medal in that sport.

E. H. Andrews was a founder member of D.S.C.,the Leinster Branch and the I.A.S.A. He chaired the inaugural meeting of the LA.S.A., in 1893 and was elected its second president in 1895. W.R. Richardson was the first captain of D.S.C., in 1881 and that year won the Long distance Championship of England over five miles of the Thames in London.
The Dockrell family is well represented in the list of winners as it is in the history of Irish swimming. Most noted of these was George who won twenty Irish titles, was placed third in the U.S. Championhships over 440 and 880 yards, represented Great Britain and Ireland in the 1908 Olympics and in 1909 he was billed as the 100 metres Champion of the World in Paris.
Noel Purcell played on the Irish waterpolo team from 1910 to 1927 and again in 1932. He won an Olympic gold with Great Britain at the 1920 Olympics and played for Ireland at the 1924 & ’28 Olympics. He was elected president of the I.A.SA, in 1920.
  Major M. A. O’Connor was a member of the 1924 waterpolo team and captained the 1928 Olympic team and also swam on the Irish relay team. He was president of the I.A.S.A., in 1926. Diarmuid Murtagh (1932), Tommy Dorgan (1986) and Fergus Barron (1994) were presidents of the I.A.S.A. and there were many more which space does not allow for. The cup was contested for annually until Blackrock Baths closed in 1982.  Unfortunately from 1966 onwards, no space remained for names until a new plinth was provided in 1981.

The Bill Hawkins Cup

The name of Bill Hawkins is synonymous with Dublin Swimming Club.  In 1947 and 1949 he won the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Race which was then a scratch event. This established him as the outstanding distance swimmer in Leinster and earned for him the scratch position in all distance swims of the period.  He was also a winner and record holder of the Leinster 400M freestyle and was placed in the 200M event.

The Claire O’Dwyer Cup

This trophy honours Ireland’s most successful masters swimmer. But it didn’t start there. In 1960 she won the Irish 100 metres butterfly and in 1964 and 65, the 100 metres free style and was placed in senior Irish Championships on no fewer than fourteen occasions. In addition, she won ten golds with Otter relay teams between 1960 and 1968.

In 1964 when she won the 100 metres freestyle, Dawn Fraser was winning her third Olympic 100 metres title. In 1992, at the World Masters Championships in Indianapolis, U.S.A., Claire defeated Dawn in three events. Her placings included one second, three thirds, a fourth and a seventh. But that was just the beginning. Since then, won her first of many World gold medals when she won the 5Km in Montreal, following on with more gold at the World Championships in Sheffield in record time. She has also been a winner at the European Championships and in many cases in record times.


Newstalk 2013