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Monday 19 August 2019

Brave souls dive right in to Christmas with annual dip in icy winter waters

Swimmers take the plunge at the Forty Foot. Photo: Frank McGrath
Swimmers take the plunge at the Forty Foot. Photo: Frank McGrath
Swimmers take the plunge at the Forty Foot. Photo: Frank McGrath
Jennifer Blackwell , Grace Ward and Joan Ward from Tralee on Banna Beach in Co Kerry. Photo: Domnick Walsh
Marion and John Holland, from Mayo, with grandson Ryan Hughes at Bondi Beach, Sydney, yesterday. Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images
Emily Reynolds from Deansgrange, Dublin, and Kevin Spalding from New York took advantage of the mild weather for a Christmas day swim at the 40 Foot in Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

Hundreds of brave souls took to the ice-cold winter waters to enjoy a swim before Christmas dinner.

While the temperature was unusually mild for Christmas Day, the sea water was still bitterly cold for those who decided to take the plunge.

Jennifer Blackwell , Grace Ward and Joan Ward from
Tralee on Banna Beach in Co Kerry. Photo: Domnick Walsh
Jennifer Blackwell , Grace Ward and Joan Ward from Tralee on Banna Beach in Co Kerry. Photo: Domnick Walsh

In keeping with the age-old tradition, scores of people began arriving at the Forty Foot in Sandycove, Dublin, early in the morning.

Some were dressed in Christmas jumpers and Santa hats while others, clearly goaded into the swim by an over-enthusiastic family member, wore bemused looks on their faces.

The majority were happy to come and mix it up with friends and strangers, with the event a welcome release from the stress built up in preparing for Christmas.

There to add to the festive cheer was Ethan Philip Smith (6) from Sandycove. He was playing his new violin to entertain the swimmers and raise money for charity.

Marion and John Holland, from Mayo, with grandson Ryan Hughes at Bondi Beach, Sydney, yesterday. Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images
Marion and John Holland, from Mayo, with grandson Ryan Hughes at Bondi Beach, Sydney, yesterday. Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images

"I've been playing just since this morning," Ethan said. "I got the violin for Christmas," added the Brian Kennedy fan, who is a student at Scoil Lorcáin.

His mother, Tara, said it was the first time she had been at the spot to swim on Christmas Day since his birth. "It was lovely, the water was gorgeous," she said.

Joked

Joan Fleetwood (62), from Blackrock, said she swims nearly every year on December 25. "I usually do it for charity," she said. "I was in for a minute or two."

Emily Reynolds (25), from Deansgrange, and Kevin Spalding (23), from New York, also took a dip.

"It's so warm I can't even feel anything," Ms Reynolds joked.

Mr Spalding, who is in the US army, said he had been in the water at the spot during summer, but not at this time of year. "It was ok," he said.

The queue for the rocky platform remained steady throughout the morning and there were numerous charity collectors on hand to raise money for good causes.

Some swimmers decided to take advantage of the easier entry to the water at Sandycove Beach, just around the corner.

Some swimmers say salt water helps with aches and pains - not least the hangover from Christmas Eve.

Emerging from the cold water can also be the perfect excuse for the first stiff drink of the day.

Swims took place all over Ireland, from Carlingford Lough in Co Louth, to Blackrock in Co Galway.

Charity swims took place at White Bay Beach at Cork harbour, and Lahinch in Co Clare, among other places.

The island of Inis Mór, off the west coast, also has a number of swimming spots which are always popular on December 25.

Irish Independent

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