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Long time, no sea: The joys of being back in the water

After cocooning for months, these year-long sea swimmers can finally return to the beach, and they couldn't be happier, writes Kathy Donaghy

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Happy to be back: Margaret Boles, Les Scanlon and Linda Uhlemann of the Bray Beach Bathers before their daily swim. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Happy to be back: Margaret Boles, Les Scanlon and Linda Uhlemann of the Bray Beach Bathers before their daily swim. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Happy to be back: Margaret Boles, Les Scanlon and Linda Uhlemann of the Bray Beach Bathers before their daily swim. Photo: Gerry Mooney

The small group of swimmers stood in the pale light of morning waiting to disrobe. Like a tribal elder, the man they'd been waiting for joined them on the beach. A round of applause and cheers greeted his arrival. It was good to have him back.

Les Scanlon has been swimming at Bray Beach for so long now that he can't remember exactly how many years it's been. But Les, who will mark his 85th birthday later this summer and never misses too many days at the beach, had to leave his love of swimming behind him for the duration of lockdown and cocoon at home.

The separation from his swim friends and the beach was painful. The sea has seen him through some of the darkest days of his life and cocooning meant he was housebound for more weeks than he'd care to remember.