Belfast Telegraph

Brave swimmers make a splash on New Year's Day

Fundraisers see in 2014 with icy dips in aid of charities

BY CLAIRE GRAHAM

Hardy local swimmers have taken the plunge for charity by splashing through freezing waters to see off 2013 and welcome in the New Year.

It may not be everybody's ideal way to shake off a New Year's Eve hangover, but the cold shores of Antrim were filled with those daring enough to take a dip to raise money for good causes.

The usually empty beaches at this time of year became a riot of swimming caps, goggles and excited crowds. East Strand in Portrush was filled with shivering bodies and goosebumps before sponsored swims for CLIC Sargent got under way in the frigid Atlantic.

It's the third year the charity has held the event, and donations will go to its Homes From Home appeal.

This will help raise funds for free accommodation for families close to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast City Hospital and NI Cancer Centre, while children receive cancer treatment.

Sporting unconventional bathing suits – onesies, fancy dress and Santa hats – Auld Lang Syne was just a distant memory as children and adults alike waded into 2014.

Some pets even took part in the freezing seaside frenzy.

In Browns Bay at Islandmagee, fearless divers made a big splash for Marie Curie Cancer Care for the seventh year in a row.

Despite the chilly temperatures – which dipped as low as 4C – and drizzly rain, spirits were high in Carnlough Lake as funds were raised for PIPS Newry and Mourne. Bare-chested swimmers whooped and cheered as if it was summer instead of the middle of winter.

A quick change into dry clothes and it was smiles all-round for the valiant groups who took the first day of the year as an opportunity to challenge themselves and raise money for an array of worthy campaigns.

Congratulations and a very many soggy hugs followed the event.

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