Owen O'Keefe

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Owen O'Keefe during his 26.4 km swim from Cappoquin to Youghal in August 2012 (Photograph: Donal Buckley)

Owen O'Keefe, a native of Fermoy, County Cork is a renowned open water swimmer from Ireland and is among the most famous swimmers of Sandycove Island. He received the Margaret Smith Award from the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association in 2012 for his individual contributions to open water swimming and organised the 2012 Irish Long Distance Swimming Association award ceremonies and the Martin Duggan Memorial Swim.


Marathon Swimming Career

O'Keefe is the youngest Irish swimmer to have completed an English Channel solo crossing. He completed this crossing on 21 September 2009, aged 16 years, in a time of 10 hours 19 minutes. This remained the fastest Irish crossing until Tom Healy's 9 hour 51 minute swim on 7 September 2012. O'Keefe is also the first and only person to have swum around Lizard Point (7.5 km from Kynance Cove to Cadgwith) with a 1 hour 59 minute swim on 26 July 2008 at the age of 15 years. He was also the first person to swim from Cork City to Myrtleville (26 km) with a 5 hour 47 minute swim on 4 July 2009, aged 16 years. He completed a crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar on 22 July 2010 in 3 hours 52 minutes at the age of 17 years to complete his second Oceans Seven swim.

He also holds the Round Jersey Solo record for the fastest swim by a male, set on 24 July 2013 in a time of 9 hours 35 minutes. The previous record was 9 hours 51 minutes, set by Nick Adams (UK) in 2010. The current record for the fastest solo swim is 9 hours 32 minutes, held by Julie Galloway (USA).

Unprecedented Swims

O'Keefe is the first and only person to have swum around Sherkin Island (16 km) with a 3 hour 58 minute effort on 31 August 2011. During the summer of 2012, he completed five more Irish unprecedented marathon swims. These included around Cape Clear (13.2 km) in West Cork, Magheraroarty to Tory Island (13.7 km) in Donegal and a total of 60 km in three stage swims down the River Blackwater from Fermoy to Youghal.

English Channel Two-Way Relay

O'Keefe is also a member of the the English Channel two-way relay team called Crosóige Mara, which also includes Maeve Ryan, Eoin O'Riordan, Caitlin Desmond, Lynne Lynch, and Carol Cashell. Under the escort of Michael Oram of the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation, they completed their swim in 20 hours 29 minutes for a new Irish 2-way relay record. The team also raised in excess of €10,000 for Down Syndrome Ireland through the swim.

Videos of English Channel swim

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