Mary O’Hagan Unsung Hero Finalist 2022

Mary O’Hagan Unsung Hero Finalist 2022

12 Dec 2022

Mary O’Hagan (OW Swim Coach) - Mary turned up at her regular open water swimming group on Sunday morning to find a TV crew waiting with a finalist trophy. Some of the swimmers had nominated her as an unsung hero for the 2022 BBC Sports Personality of the Year and she has been invited to the awards ceremony in Manchester on the 21st December.

A short write up by Mary - I started Open water Swimming in October 2019. At that time, my health was very poor, both mentally and physically. Being in the Water, did me so much good, that I just knew, I had to get the message out to others who I knew were also suffering. I applied to Mental Health Swims, and vecame the first Mental Health Swimhost in Northern Ireland, and ran a Swim once a month on East strand, Portrush. Quite soon after that, Covid 19 hit us, and once it got to the stage, that we were no longer allowed to travel outside of our own area, I sought out somewhere more local to Swim, and Started The Ballyronan Bluetits on 24th October 2020. We had 6 people at our first swim! I was not prepared for how quickly our little group would grow, and soon, there was 100, then 200, then 1000. The Ballyronan Bluetits are a Sub group of The Global Bluetits Chill Swimmers, so I had great Support from all the girls at Bluetits HQ in Wales, training and guidance. I was lucky to find some wonderful people along the way, who volunteered their time and helped me to grow the group! Ricky Holmes came on board as my Co - Admin, and right hand man. All through 2021, we guided hundreds of swimmers through their first steps into Open water Swimming, and Cold water, advising and guiding on safety.We both decided that we wanted to complete our Coaching qualification, and booked on with Richard Timms, and completed our level 2 in early 2022. Richard has been an amazing source of Support for both Ricky and I throughout this journey! During the Summer of 2022, We delivered " Get Wet, Stay Safe" sessions on behalf of Swim Ulster, which was just a privilege to be involved with. All the while, keeping The Ballyronan Bluetits group running and thriving. I started working for Tidal in Toomebridge as a Social Prescriber in July of this year. Social Prescribing, aims to address unmet needs in the community, and generally improve the health and wellbeing of the population. I knew, without a doubt, that my clients could benefit from getting out into Open water, in whatever way they could. So I created the Tidal Tribe Swimming group. A fully Coached group of Swimmers, who have the benefit of two Open water coaches with them at all times in the water. Myself and Ricky again. We gave them the safety information that it took us years to learn on our own, and guided them to a wide variety of locations. Waterfalls, Rivers, Sea, and Lough Neagh, Moonswims, Morning Swims. You name it, we've done it! Both groups are going strong, and currently Swimming in Sub 5°C every weekend, all with Safety and the benefits of Cold water at the forefront of our intentions. My own swimming has changed dramatically too. I started just Dipping, jumping over waves, and now, I compete in the Open water season run by Swim Ulster. In 2022, 6 of us travelled to Copenhagan to compete in the 2km Christiansbourg rundt swim, and we also attended The Scottish Winter Swimming Championships at Loch Tay. The same is already booked for 2023! Ultimately, I'm chasing an Ice Mile. That's been my goal since I first heard about Ice Swimming, and am really hoping that this is my season! I also want to thank each and everyone of my Swimmers, who've all become my family! We really are a Tribe and The Ballyronan Bluetits wouldn't be where it is today without the help of the many many people who give up their time willingly to help out. 

 

 


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