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Tiny heroes take the plunge to help sick babies

A thousand tiny babies are taking to the water in Dublin this week to help sick babies in their own age group.

The infants -- some as young as eight weeks old -- are swimming through hoops and underwater.

Their aim is to raise €37,000 to buy a specialist incubator for the Children's Hospital in Temple Street which can provide live-saving intensive care for newborns.

The young swimmers are all members of Water Babies which runs more than 100 swimming classes a week for babies and toddlers starting from six weeks of age.

Babies of between eight weeks and 10 months will do a solo swim underwater and the intermediate group will swim through a hoop. Other babies will swim on their mother's or carer's back underwater or glide with them through a hoop, while toddlers will complete a training circuit in the pool.

Aisling Andrews, of Temple Street, said: "Babies in an incubator who need other treatment often have to be moved to a bed-warmer but equipment eliminates the need to transfer critically ill babies."

The hospital approached Water Babies two years ago with a fundraising idea. "We had set a goal of €3,000 but they raised €22,000 for vital equipment. This year we decided to ask them if they would like to raise money for their own piece of equipment which will have a Water Babies plaque," added Aisling.

Water Babies was set up in Ireland by sisters Carol and Therese McNally in 2002 and teaches babies to swim without flotation aids.

Anyone who wants to donate to the fund raiser can find details on www.templestreet.ie.