Frank Feighan, TD, Minister of State for Public Health, speaking at Lough Lene this morning.

New swim buoy markers at The Cut will encourage use of lake, says minister

The physical and health benefits of open water swimming were highlighted this morning at Lough Lene, where Minister Frank Feighan was present to launch the Healthy Ireland Swim Buoy Marker Project.

Joking as he opened his remarks, he said he had left his red Speedos at home! “I grew up beside Lough Key and Lough Arrow, and the River Shannon and I did a lot of lake swimming until I realised it was just too cold!”

Deputy Feighan, Minister of State for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy, acknowledged the popularity of lake and sea swimming, and wished Westmeath County Council well with the project at The Cut.

He gave credit to Cllr Frank McDermott: “You said that Cllr McDermott was encouraging – I always found him more demanding than encouraging!" the minister said with a smile.

"But it is great that somebody brings an idea to the council and it’s delivered, and it’s great to get the kind invitation to visit the shores of Lough Lene at the launch of these Swim Buoy Markers.

"I've heard and I can see for myself that Lough Lene is considered one of the finest fresh water swimming lakes in Ireland.”

The minister welcomed other public representatives, Deputy Johnny Quirke, leas-cathaoirleach, Cllr Bill Collentine, Cllr Paddy Hill, as well as Cllr McDermott, and also the deputy chief executive of Westmeath County Council, Barry Keohe, and Hugh Farrell, chair of LCDC (Westmeath Local Community Development Committee).

The minister said he was delighted to see the amount of work being done around the county in the improvement of health and wellbeing. “Working here at a local level, you’re in the best position to know what the needs of your community are, and how to meet those needs."

He said swimming is an activity that can continue through all ages: “It is not only physical activity, but being in blue space has been proven to provide significant mental health benefits.

“I hope that the buoys will be a valuable resource for the future and I’m confident that they will be used, not only by competitive swimmers, but by people from the surrounding communities here in Colliinstown and further afield. They will contribute to health and wellbeing in this community and improve water safety.”

Minister Feighan said his colleague Minister Peter Burke has told him about the great work being done in Westmeath and he also acknowledged the work done by his colleague Minister Robert Troy.

In conclusion the minister said: “I thank you all for your hard work and I wish you well in the future.”

Healthy Ireland Swim Buoy Marker Project

The swim buoys are to help both recreational and competitive swimmers to guage how far they’ve swum, either as a casual swim or as a timed swim in training for races.