Saturday 24 February 2018

Hardy souls brave cold for festive swim

Christmas day swimmers get a drenching at the Emy Lake swim in Emyvale, Co Monaghan. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick
Christmas day swimmers get a drenching at the Emy Lake swim in Emyvale, Co Monaghan. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick
Megan Vandessel from Monkstown and Kielan Cunningham from Malahide also took part in the dip. Photo: Mark Condren
A swimmer is joined by a duck during the Forty Foot Christmas swim at Sandycove, in Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Hundreds of festive enthusiasts up and down the country braved chilly December temperatures - and in some cases driving rain - to meet the challenge of their annual Christmas Day swim.

At the famous 'Forty Foot' in Sandycove in south Dublin, the brave dippers were well and truly soaked even before they reached the choppy water.

Torrential rain and swirling winds made the wintry conditions even more daunting - but it only added to the determination of those taking the plunge.

Among them was Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who braved the teeth-chattering challenge for the second year in a row.

"It was a bit colder and rougher this year - and my feet are a bit numb," he confessed afterwards, as he sought some solace in a giant cup of steaming tea.

"I'm here with relatives from America... I thought I'd leave them with something memorable from Dublin."

With temperatures sitting at just 5C, for the majority swimming conditions were certainly less than ideal, apart from a few seasoned all-year-round dippers.

But the novices were also clearly determined to hold their nerve and mix it with the best of them.

Some were seen taking a nip of pre-plunge liquid warmth from a hip flask as they braced themselves for that crucial first jump.

While most of the country was snuggling under a duvet - or tucking into some Christmas Day goodies - this hardy group were squeezing into an array of swimming gear in the December chill.


A few were dressed as 'Star Wars' characters, while one man got into the festive spirit in a Santa outfit. Others braved the cold in bikinis. Young and old, male and female, all seemed bonded together by the challenge of the task at hand, and some were raising funds for a variety of charities.

For some, the sudden jolt of cold to the system was obviously too much and they quickly abandoned the water as soon as they realised just how bad it really was.

Irish Independent

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