Fergal Madden – Following In His Father’s Footsteps

Fergal Madden – Following In His Father’s Footsteps

Fergal Madden is an Irish marathon swimmer from Galway in the West of Ireland.

He only learned to swim at 29 years of age and is the current Chair and one of the founding members of Atlantic Masters Swimming Club which boasts close to 100 members at present. His training ground is Galway Bay, swimming either at Rinville in Oranmore or Blackrock in Galway City, all year round in all conditions.

On June 16th, 2022, he completed the 28.5-mile Manhattan 20 Bridges in a time of 8hrs 55mins, he previously swam the English Channel on August 3rd, 2019, on a spring tide in a time of 16hrs 46mins.

On August 26th, 2022, he swam across the Catalina Channel in a time of 13hrs 38mins and in doing so he earned the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming becoming the first Connaught person to do so and only the 8th Irish person to achieve the Triple Crown. Other swims completed are the Fastnet to Baltimore, several crossings of Galway Bay & Lough Gill, ice miles etc.

In recognition of his swimming achievements for 2022, Fergal was recently awarded the Galway All Star Award for Swimming for 2022 on Friday, January 20th this year at the Galway Bay Hotel in Salthill in Galway with over 300 people attending the black-tie event.

On the night, swimming had the largest supporter group above any other sport at the awards.

This award covers all swimming, both sea & pool, all swimming clubs and is typically awarded to pool swimmers and for a sea swimmer to be awarded this award is exceptional.

Fergal Madden with his family – Galway All Star Award for Swimming 2022

The Galway Sports Awards are highly regarded and has been in existence for 57 years, covering all sports from hurling, football, camogie, rowing, swimming, boxing, golf, rugby, kickboxing, soccer, cycling, horse racing, team of the year, hall of fame etc.

This award was made even more special as his late father, Tommy Madden won the inaugural award for athletics in 1965, over half a century previously.

Fergal’s dad, Tommy excelled in three disciplines, running, cycling and walking but he is best remembered as one of the top Irish runners in the 50’s and 60’s. He ran the mile in his bare feet on a grass track in a time of 4min 12sec with no specialised training, just pure raw talent.

His father too, was also a founder of a club, namely Derrydonnell Athletic Club who won every accolade available to them during their time in existence, this has been recorded in a book namely “In Their Bare Feet” a history of Derrydonnell AC.

Derrydonnell AC were pioneers in their day becoming the first Irish club to compete outside of Ireland in New York, USA in March 1961 competing against and holding their own against the top athletes in the USA.

Fergal Madden’s father at the event

The club were instrumental in healing the rift in Irish athletics between the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) & NACA (National Athletic & Cycling Association) in the formation of the BLE (Board Luthchleas na hEireann) the precursor to Athletics Ireland.

On all his swims, Fergal proudly wears the green colours of Derrydonnell AC, his native townland and quotes “that the few swims that he has done are not a patch on his father’s athletic achievements” in a time in Ireland that they had nothing, came from nothing but achieved so much.

Photo: Fergal Madden with his Dad’s All Star Athletic Award from 1965