Dublin City Liffey Swim

For up-to-date race information, entry fees and registration click here.

The Dublin City Liffey Swim (Irish: Snámh na Life, Bhaile Átha Cliath) is one of the most famous open sea races throughout the world.  It was first run in 1920 when it was devised by Bernard Fagan an engineer in Dublin Corporation to show the citizens the good quality of the water in the Liffey.

The Dublin City Liffey Swim is unique in that Dublin is the only capital country in Europe to have a swimming race through the middle of the city.  The Dublin City Liffey Swim is the highlight of the open sea swimming season and in particular for the native Dubliners there is something special about being able to swim down the Liffey in early September.  This also provides a great spectacle for the Dublin public who line the quays, boardwalks and bridges along the mile and a quarter course to catch a glimpse of this unique event.

Race Course

Swimmers will swim 2,200 metres downstream underneath the key bridges of Dublin City:

  • Rory O’Moore Bridge
  • James Joyce Bridge
  • Liam Mellow Bridge
  • Father Mathew Bridge
  • O’Donvan Rossa Bridge
  • Grattan Bridge
  • Millenium Bridge
  • Liffey Bridge (Halfpenny Bridge)
  • O’Connell Bridge
  • Butt Bridge
  • Rosie Hackett Bridge
  • Loop Line Bridge

The Liffey Swim is a family event.  Over the years many families have competed in the Liffey Swim with father and son, Grandfather and Grandson, Mother and daughter etc.  In 2014 there were 9 parents competing with their children.  We have all ages and all levels of ability competing in the Liffey Swim with the youngest swimmer aged just 13 and the oldest swimmers in their mid seventies.  Many swimmers have competed in the Liffey over twenty, thirty, forty and fifty years in a row.

The Dublin City Liffey Swim is regarded as an Open Sea Race as for much of the race swimmers are battling against an incoming tide and are swimming in salt water.


The first Liffey Swim took place on 22 July 1920. Bernard Fagan was the first to organise the race. Fagan was a swimmer and became a public health analyst for Dublin Corporation in 1923. The race was swum at high tide when there were fewer pollutants. The first Liffey Swim had an entry of 27 male swimmers and was won by J.J. Kennedy with Bernard Fagan himself coming in third. Fagan’s son Jack Fagan later won the Liffey Swim in 1951. During the 1930s, 40s and early 50s the Liffey Swim attracted large crowds. The race originally started at Victoria Quay, from a Guinness Barge and finished at Burgh Quay. In 1991 the first ladies race was introduced and in the early 1990s the race was moved 400 yards down river to start beside the Civic Offices and to finish opposite the Custom House.

A detailed history of the Liffey Swim from 1920 to 1983 was published by Cyril J Smith of TCD and is available in PDF format:

Past Winners

Men Ladies
Year Name Club Name Club
1920 J.J. Kennedy
1921 J.C. Hopkins
1922 T.H. Dockrell
1923 Cecil Fagan
1924 O S. Roche
1925 G.C. Higginbotham
1926 T.A. O’Reilly
1927 J.P. Wallace
1928 Philip T. Brooks
1929 Dermot J. Healy
1930 William F. Case
1931 E.J. Doyle
1932 I.J. Maher
1933 John Ellis
1934 R.N. Case
1939 W.H. Ashmore
1940 Patrick Kinsella
1941 T. Hannigan NDSC
1942 C.P. Cloake DSC
1943 A.W. Kennett
1944 P.G. Condon NDSC
1945 J. Cassidy
1946 J. Rafter HMSC
1947 K.E. Ruddock Carlow SC
1948 D. Griffin NDSC
1949 F. O’Donovan SWSC Cork & NDSC
1950 J. Grant SSC Limerick
1951 J.J. Fagan NDSC
1952 G. Best HMSC
1953 G. Boland NSWSC
1954 J.A. Markey DSC & Sk. SC
1955 P. Broderick Galway SC
1956 Thomas I May Club Sna Colmcille
1957 C.H. Hardy Crusade SC
1958 R. Power SWSC
1959 Kevin King Crusade SC
1960 Sean Heffernan Clontarf SC
1961 Tony A. Hardy Crusade SC
1962 T. Byrne DSC
1963 Colm O’Brien Half Moon SC
1964 D.M. Page NDWSC
1965 Patrick J. Kelly Guinness SC
1966 Francis White Guinness SC
1967 Francis White Guinness SC
1968 William H. Lacey Colmcile SC
1969 John Mulvey Half Moon SC
1970 David Fitzgerald Crusade SC
1971 Ultan Kerrigan North Dublin SC
1972 Fintan O’Meara Clontarf SC
1973 Paul Emmett Half Moon SC
1974 Liam Bohan Half Moon SC
1975 David Cummins Cormorant SC
1976 Kevin Scully Templeogue SC
1977 Nicholas O’Meara Clontarf SC
1978 Jim Mooney Half Moon SC
1979 Dermot Hughes Half Moon SC
1980 Michael Fitzpatrick Half Moon SC
1981 Arthur Dunne Half Moon SC
1982 Arthur Dunne Half Moon SC
1983 Paul Kealy HMSC
1984 Jason Stynes Kingdom SC
1985 Richard Joyce NDWSC
1986 Greg O’Dwyer Guinness SC
1987 Shane Nicoletti Guinness SC
1988 Bert O’Brien Sandycove SC
1989 Derek Bimbo Wilkes NDWSC
1990 Oliver Flanagan St. V. WPC
1991 Vincent Tormey Dublin Univ. SC Siobhan Haore Half Moon SC
1992 Matty Waine Guinness SC Anne Hudson Wicklow SC
1993 John Dunne Metro WSC Jill Donaghey Dublin SC
1994 Michael Finnegan ESB SC Mary McDermot Dublin SC
1995 Bert O’Brien Sandycove SC Elaine Murphy ESB SC
1996 Frank Chatham NDWSC Caroline Fleming Tallaght SC
1997 Michael Mongey St. V. WPC Roisin Ryan Barracuda SC
1998 Frank Carroll Glenalbyn SC Aishling Wadden Wicklow SC
1999 John Ward Aer Lingus SC Debbie Doyle MMSC
2000 Brian Mongey MMSC Ciara O’Sullivan St. Pauls SC
2001 Paul Byrne NDWSC Valerie Spollen Phonenix SC
2002 Paschal Russell St. Pauls SC Mary Rose Keegan Otter SC
2003 John Morton Wicklow SC Sandra Trappe Dublin SC
2004 Robert Clarke Eastern Bay SC Colette Kelly Guinness SC
2005 Dan Smyth NAC Masters SC Molly Molloy Dublin SC
2006 Kevin Stacey Coolmine SC Claire Gavaghan ESB SC
2007 Larry Mooney Guinness SC Sandy Dowling Eastern Bay SC
2008 Charles Harper Dublin SC Mary Kelly Aer Lingus SC
2009 Pat O’Driscoll Templeogue SC Sorcha Barry Glenalbyn SC
2010 Brian O’Dwyer Guinness SC Deirdre Dunne St. Vincents SC
2011 Declan Proctor Eastern Bay SC Maria Quintanilla Dublin SC
2012 Tom Loftus Eastern Bay SC Clodagh Nolan Carraig Masters
2013 Ciaran O’Driscoll Half Moon SC Gina Quinn Glenalbyn SC
2014 Gerald Wilkes North Dublin SC Rachel Lee Guinness SC
2015 Donnacha O’Siadhail Swim4Life Orla Walsh ESB SC


The Dublin City Liffey Swim is run each year by Leinster Open Sea Swimming, a voluntary not for profit organisation, and is the final swimming race in the Leinster Open Sea Calendar of over 35 Open Sea Races.

Many swimmers who compete in the Liffey Swim will also compete in the equally prestigious Dun Laoghaire Harbour Race in August. This race is approximately 2,200 metres around the Harbour.

Dublin City Council and the Liffey Swim

The swimmers are proud of the connection between the Liffey Swim and Dublin City Council. It is now a well established tradition that the Lord Mayor of Dublin starts the race each year.

Many staff members of Dublin City Council and Dublin Fire Brigade compete on an annual basis in the Dublin City Liffey Swim. One of the great Liffey traditions are the Liffey Showers at the end of the race provided by Dublin Fire Brigade.

Both the swimmers and Leinster Open Sea thank Dublin City Council for the support and assistance they give the Dublin City Liffey Swim each year.