Guest Blog: Swimming into possibilities

By August 31, 2018Super Sonru

Marathon in a Month is a fundraising initiative by the Irish Cancer Society to encourage typically inactive people to get out and about and walk/run/hike a marathon over the entire month of July.

Below, Joy Redmond, Head of Research at Sonru, shares her experience of this year’s Marathon in a Month and her rationale for getting involved.

Swim Version

Growing up near the coast in Wexford, my parents’ greatest gift was a love of the sea, in particular, my mother who swam every day, rain, hail or shine. I put the feelers out in the local swim community and happily recruited four friends to join me on this journey, some also grieving from cancer loss, others just happy to give something back but each of us committed to swimming 26 miles each, in the Irish Sea, during the month of July.

Not Entirely Selfless

Swimming this marathon in a month was not entirely selfless. I’d lost my second parent to cancer last summer and another friend earlier this year (not cancer) and what I’ve found is that grief is debilitating. It knocks your confidence and takes away your sense of joy making it almost impossible to enjoy the very things that will help you through the darker times. All year, I pulled back from the club, didn’t sign up for winter training and couldn’t bring myself to go swimming so when I heard about Marathon in a Month, I thought ‘that’ll get me back in the water’ and it did which was a fitting tribute to my parents.

So if you have been bereaved and think you just can’t face what you love, then sign up for some sort of challenge. You’ll get yourself back on the road to recovery while minding your physical and mental health and make some money for a charity.

Day In / Day Out

26 miles over 31 days gives an average of 1.3km swimming every day. I decided to tip along every day as days off would mean doubling or trebling the output which is fine for a once-off but not so cool when you’re managing old rowing injuries that need complete rest if aggravated, so little and often was the only way for me. I started off full of the joys, my first swim was on a gloriously sunny and calm Sunday morning on July 1st in Courtown, my favourite swimming spot. I was joined by our surf lifesaving coach and another Master, together we did a cool 1.6k around the buoys, only 25 more miles to go! Day 2 was not so joyful with high winds and waves throwing me around, I could only manage 800m having spent more time in the water. So it continued, on days off I’d prefer to start the day with an early swim before breakfast, when working or commuting it meant it hung over me all day until I finally got to the sea by 7 or 8 pm. Through our WhatsApp group, the team of 5 tried to get together or in groups at least twice per week and we followed each other’s progress through our charity pages.

After a day or two of swimming on the spot around day 11, I cornered a surfer/kayaker friend at dinner and got him to teach me to read the tides and winds and we were plain sailing from there – no longer man against nature, but with the currents. Some days we circled loops on smaller beaches like Ballymoney and Cahore harbour but I always prefer a good A to B with the slipway in Courtown to the Burrow or back, depending on the conditions, being my favourite.

Amazing Support

I set up the charity page in mid June and had surpassed my target within 24 hours. Throughout the month, we got such amazing support – people who couldn’t commit to the full challenge joined us on our swims and we almost always met somebody who knew about it and wished us well. One morning, we met a woman on the beach and in the usual banter of ‘is it cold?’, we told her about our challenge. She burst out crying, told us her father is terminally ill with cancer and thanked us for our efforts, all we could say was ‘sorry’ and give her a hug. Although we didn’t envy her journey, it reminded us that we were doing the challenge for a very good reason, not just a crazy swimming challenge. Then I can’t underestimate how proud I am that together we raised over €5,000 purely from our charity pages. We were featured in the local newspaper and interviewed on national radio because we were the only swimmers among the 773 participants, they added the swim activity to the charity page just for us. The Head of Fundraising for the Irish Cancer Society reckons we’ve started something and thinks more and more swimmers will sign up next year.

The Last Hoorah

We organised a final swim together to mark the completion of the challenge. We created a Facebook event and invited friends and families to join us for a final dip followed by some chips at the harbour, a very Irish thing to do. It lashed rain all day, it was cold and miserable. I drove straight from work presuming I’d be joined by just the other team members. We were astonished to see the car park almost full and the amount of people getting kitted out in the rain – about 25 of us got in for a dip joined by a few on boards/craft. A few short speeches, some medals and lavender crowns were donned and we were off to the chipper, happier, fitter and stronger than we’d been one month before and proud to have raised so much money for the Irish Cancer Society. Thanks to everyone for your amazing support and watch this space next July, it’ll be an annual thing now.

I’ll conclude with some words from the 2000 Penn Commencement Address by Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney: “Remember that the anchor of your being lies in human affection and human responsibility, but remember also to keep swimming up into the air of envisaged possibilities.”

photo highlights of joy redmond's marathon in a month

 Some highlights from this year’s Marathon in a Month


The fundraising page will be remain open for donations until November 2018, so if you’re interested in making a contribution, you can do so here.

Edward Hendrick
Ed holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agribusiness & Rural Development and a Higher Diploma in Enterprise Development and Entrepreneurship.

Since founding Sonru in 2007 with the vision of introducing Video Interviewing to mainstream recruitment, Ed has established the organisation as a global leader and one of the top recruitment SaaS companies worldwide.

With numerous accolades to his name such as the Sunday Business Posts ‘Top 40 Under 40’ and IIA Net Visionary award for innovation, Ed is recognised as one of the world’s leading experts in video recruitment technology and is a renowned industry speaker.

With a passion for new technology and how it can be used to make life easier for people in the real world, Ed has been instrumental in shaping the current landscape of the Video Interviewing industry.
Chris Horan
CTO at Sonru
Chris graduated from Trinity College Dublin with an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics and Computer Science and went on to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Science in Physics and Computer Science as well as a Higher Diploma in Enterprise Development.

With almost 20 years’ experience in the software engineering and computer science space, Chris has worked with leading technology companies such as Accuris, CAPE Technologies and BearingPoint.

Chris has been at the forefront of Sonru’s product development since the company’s inception in 2007.
Daniel Richard
Managing Director EMEA
Sonru’s Europe MD, Daniel Richard, graduated from Queen’s University, Canada with a Master of Science in Industrial and Organisational Science.

A trained Occupational Psychologist with more than 15 years of sales and consulting experience in multinational recruitment and HR services companies, Daniel leads Sonru’s sales efforts within EMEA, helping to grow its rapidly expanding customer base.

Prior to joining Sonru, Daniel spent 10 years at Oracle Taleo helping to build the company from a small regional start-up to a true industry leader. Daniel has held a variety of sales and consulting positions on various continents, including the US and Europe.
Fergal O'Byrne
Non-Executive Director
Fergal holds a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering from Dublin Institute of Technology and is an experienced Internet industry entrepreneur.

Since founding Interactive Return in 1998, Fergal has been a member of the Board of Directors of, WINC, and CCD Limited and was a previous chair of the Project Advisory Group for Fáilte Ireland’s eBusiness Support Initiative.

A recognised influencer within the industry, Fergal has served as CEO of the Irish Internet Association and has published four books including ‘10 Online Marketing and Search Engine Essentials’ and ‘10 Technologies Every Executive Should Know’.

In 2015, Fergal was inducted into the IIA Internet Hall of Fame in recognition for services to the internet industry.
George Pennock
George holds an MA in History from Oxford University and is a previous Partner and Head of Saphir UK at Saphir Capital Partners.

George spent several years with the Goldman Sachs Group as a mergers and acquisitions banker before moving into private equity where he has spent most of the past 15 years. He has served as a Senior Investment Manager and COO at Pi Capital, and worked with Botts & Company Ltd where he made private equity investments in the leisure, publishing, branded goods, retail, and technology sectors.

Having spent the past two decades working with a myriad of talented and unconventional entrepreneurs, investing in everything from online employee benefits platforms to river boats and book publishers, George is passionate about backing exceptional people and interesting businesses and believes that while a mediocre management team can ruin even a great plan, a great management team can make a success of almost any business opportunity.
John Penning
Currently, I am a Director of Sonru, the leading Online Video Interviewing company. Previous career highlights include; CEO of the Irish Internet Association, Chairman of and Founder and CEO of Interactive Return. In 2015 I was very honoured to be inducted into the IIA Internet Hall of Fame in recognition for services to the internet industry.
Rodolphe Verhaegen
Non-Executive Director
Rodolphe is currently an Operational Advisor with Digital Ventures in Brussels having previously worked in Ebay, most recently as Director of Customer Innovation.

Rodolphe is an innovative and creative business leader, with a strong interest in technology and agile software development practices. He holds an Masters Degree in Business Information Management and a BA in Business Economics from the Vrije Universiteit, Brussels.
Georges Schmit
Non-Executive Director
A native of Luxembourg, Georges graduated with degrees in Economics from the University of Louvain, Belgium (BA) and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (MA). Besides his native Luxembourgish, Georges is fluent in French, English and German.

Georges served the Government of Luxembourg from 1981 to 2016 and throughout most of his career he focused on innovation and technology policy, economic development and trade and investment promotion.

During his time with the Government of Luxembourg, Georges served as Secretary General of the Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy and was a member of several European Union high-level advisory bodies including the European Commission's "Enterprise Policy Group”. He also served as both Vice-Chairman and Executive Chairman of the National Credit and Investment Corporation (SNCI) of Luxembourg.

Georges has served on the Board of Directors of both listed and private companies including the world's largest steelmaker ArcelorMittal, the Luxembourg-based global satellite operator SES, the Luxembourg Post and Telecommunications Company, and the Luxembourg State and Savings Bank, among others. Most recently, he contributed to the design and launch of several major Luxembourg Government innovation policy initiatives and sits on the Luxembourg Government’s Advisory Board on Space Resources.
Clément Helinckx
Non-Executive Director
Clément is a member of the Saphir Capital Partner's Team. Clément worked at PwC Luxembourg for 6 years in Private Equity Audit and then as Manager in the Corporate Finance practice in Valuation, Buy-side and Sell-side advisory. He holds a MSc from IÉSEG School of Management.

Patrick Sweeney
Non-Executive Director
Patrick holds a Bachelor of Business Studies Degree in Accounting, Management, Human Resources, Marketing and Economics from University of Limerick as well as Masters of Education in Management, Human Resources and Training and Development from University of Sheffield.

For 25 years, Patrick held the position of Human Resources and Public Affairs Director for Aughinish Alumina where he was involved in change management, restructuring and international mergers and acquisitions.

Patrick also undertook many other leadership roles including operations management, training and development and employee relations management. In addition to sitting on the Board of Directors at Sonru since 2011, Patrick has operated his own strategic management and human resources consultancy firm for the past 8 years.