Belfast Telegraph

Swimmers take a Christmas Day dip to support lifeboat crews

The fundraiser sees revellers defy cold weather to take to the sea.

People take part in the Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club annual Christmas swim (Brian Lawless/PA)
People take part in the Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club annual Christmas swim (Brian Lawless/PA)

Thousands of festive swimmers have taken the plunge at Christmas Day dips all over the island of Ireland.

The increasingly popular seasonal tradition saw beaches, coastal rocks and lake shores north and south packed with brave bathers.

With hardy souls temporarily swapping turkey for trunks and Brussel sprouts for bikinis, events were staged from Portstewart Strand on the Causeway Coast to Myrtleville beach in Co Cork, and many spots in between.

In Co Dublin, an annual swim to raise funds for the RNLI has been held by Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club for the past 42 years.

Ian Sargent, 74, who has been raising cash throughout those four decades, said the event was stronger than ever.

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People take part in the annual Christmas swim in aid of the RNLI (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Our annual Christmas swim has been going from the 70s and it has been getting bigger every year, with more and more participation,” he said.

Mr Sargent stayed on dry land this year, insisting his winter dipping days were being him.

“I stopped that when I was 60,” he laughed.

Sailor Tom Leonard was among those who braved the waves.

“We do this for the RNLI every year, it’s a great cause, they do great work and without them we wouldn’t be sailing on the sea,” he said.

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Nicola Jensen, from Brisbane, Australia, and Orla Doogue, from Dublin, (right) sport Christmas jumpers (Brian Lawless/PA)

Fellow swimmer John O’Reilly said the event had earned a reputation for the amount of money raised.

“Forty two years ago we started swimming here and we raised the largest amount of money for the lifeboat in the British Isles,” he said.

“And you can see by the crowd we are going to raise more money today.”

Orla Doogue, a member of the club’s fundraising committee, highlighted her family’s own debt of gratitude to lifeboat volunteers.

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The Christmas swim is in aid of the RNLI (Brian Lawless/PA)

“There were probably about 200 swimmers here all raising money for the RNLI,” she said.

“My aunt and uncle and my cousin, who all swam here today, were rescued earlier this year off Rathlin Island where there were two lifeboats called out to their assistance.”

Elsewhere in Dublin, hundreds again flocked to the rocks at the ever popular Forty Foot at Sandycove.

Swimmers, many wearing Santa hats, laughed off the shivers as they lined up to jump into the chilly waters.

December 26 has also become a popular day for sea swims off the island of Ireland and more events are due to take place on both sides of the border on St Stephen’s/Boxing Day.

PA

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