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Plucky swimmers start Christmas Day with a dip in the sea

The water temperature around the coast of Bangor, Co Down, was estimated to have been around seven degrees for the festive frolics.

A host of plucky swimmers across Ireland started their Christmas Day with a chilly dip in the sea.

The water temperature in Belfast Lough was estimated to be around seven degrees and choppy waves greeted the Brompton Belles and Beaux as they braved the dip in Bangor, Co Down.

However there was hot chocolate and mulled wine along with mince pies and shortbread to warm up afterwards.

At Sandycove in Dublin, cross channel swimmer Patrick Corkery was among those taking the dip.

He described the festive swim as a great tradition at the Forty Foot which he has been doing for 30 years, following his father and his 10-year-old son now involved too.

However with large waves, swimmers diverted to nearby Sandycove beach for safety reasons.

“Today’s a bit wild, the Forty Foot was not suitable for getting in the water so we swam at Sandycove round the corner which was much more calm and safe,” he told the PA news agency.

“It really sets you up for the day, we got up this morning and opened all the presents from Santa, then came out here. It’s our family tradition.”

Mr Corkery, who conquered the English Channel in 2017, said weather does not daunt sea swimmers.

“But they key thing is if the waves and conditions are too rough, you don’t get in. You need a safe entry and exit,” he added.

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In Bangor, Marie-Therese Davis-Hanson was among the swimmers who start their day with a sea dip all year round.

“It was about 7.2 degrees in there this morning,” she told PA.

Nicola Woods added: “The temperature will go down to at least four degrees in the months ahead, last March we got to about three degrees where there was frost on the sea weed and it was properly cold, painful.”

Ms Davis-Hanson said the Christmas swim was a little more special as a chance to catch up with friends over a mulled wine before Christmas dinner.

Ms Woods added: “It’s a chance to get a bit of peace and quiet before the madness of the day, taking a bit of time for yourself, getting in and really enjoying the wild weather. But it’s still lovely at the same time.”

The group have been facing an additional challenge in recent weeks after Storm Barra broke the ladder they use to get into the sea, they added that the best Christmas present they could receive would be seeing it fixed by the local council.

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