Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 1 September 2015

New Year's Day dip still making a splash 40 years on

By Amanda Poole

Published 28/12/2011

Every New Year's Day for the past 39 years Geoff Bell has plunged into the cold waters at Carnlough harbour to raise funds for charity.

And January 1, 2012 will be no different.

Geoff, a 55-year-old fitness instructor from Ballymena, told the Belfast Telegraph he is looking forward to marking the 40th anniversary of the annual swim that raises funds for the Ballymena branch of the Northern Ireland Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus.

He explained how the January 1 midday swim started off as a bit of fun between his late father William and some friends.

"Many years ago my father and his friends decided one New Year's Eve to do it for a dare," Mr Bell said.

"They jumped in the freezing water and from then on people have been doing the swim annually to raise money for charity.

"It's a great cure for a hangover and it's the only day of the year I will be in the water."

Last year Geoff led 55 hardy souls into the water, under the watchful eye of the Larne branch of the Saint John Ambulance and the supportive spectators assembled at the harbour.

They are on course to raise £10,000 this year and Geoff said he wants to thank everyone who sponsored the swimmers taking part.

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