Iconic Pickie to Pier Swim returns to original route

As part of the Open House Festival, this year’s Pickie to Pier Swim will return to its original route at Bangor Marina.

Iconic Pickie to Pier Swim returns to original route.

Open House Festival takes place in Bangor and is one of the highlights of the year. It runs across the summer and brings a host of cultural events to the seaside town.

One such event is the Pickie to Pier Swim. This swimming race dates back over a century and was revived by the festival five years ago following a three-decade hiatus.

This year will be the first since its return in which it will follow its original 20th-century route.

Pickie to Pier Swim – a historic race

Credit: Shelleven House, Bangor

The Pickie to Pier Swim first began in Bangor, County Down, in 1910 and ran through to the mid-1980s.

It would see hundreds of eager participants swim from Skippingstone Beach beside Bangor’s iconic Pickie Play Park to Eisenhower Pier, before returning in a 2600-foot (800-metre) loop.

Return of the Pickie to Pier Swim – back to its roots

Bangor Marina, where the Pickie to Pier Swim takes place.
Credit: Flickr/ Leimenide

The swim was brought back by Open House Festival in 2019 after an absence of over 30 years. The new incarnation of the race followed a shortened route, directly from Skippingstone Beach to the RNLI slipway without return.

But this year the Pickie to Pier Swim will revert to its original route.

Event organiser Sharon Matchett said, “When we brought the event back to life in 2019 we thought a direct route from the beach to the pier would be best. But to mark the fifth year of the new race, we decided to step it up a notch with a U-turn back to the starting point.

“In reality the course is only an extra 50 metres in length, but it will probably look more to the swimmers”.

Matchett added, “This event isn’t just about the winners. It’s about the joy of taking part, the camaraderie, and the sense of achievement for the swimmers when they walk out of the water. Our final swimmer home will receive just as big a cheer as the winner will”.

RELATED: Top 10 best wild sea swimming spots in Ireland, ranked

The details – Open House Festival

A band performing at Open House Festival.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool/ Open House Festival; Steven Dalgliesh

The Pickie to Pier Swim takes place at 10 am on Saturday, 6 July. Tickets are on sale now via the Open House Festival website. Participants must be confident and experienced swimmers over the age of 16.

Open House Festival takes place across Bangor during the summer. In addition to the Pickie to Pier Swim, events include wine tastings, food pop-ups, and the Seaside Revival Vintage Festival on Saturday, 29 June.

There are also a series of live music shows, DJ nights, comedy acts, and more. For the full programme, visit the Open House Festival website.

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