Full Moon Calendar 2021

Featured

@Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media

Last year hundreds more people took to the outdoors to swim and I know many of you are enjoying the exhilaration of this new adventure continuing through the winter. With the short daylight hours evening and night swimming has increased in popularity and a very special part of this are Moonlit swims, so below I have listed 2021’s full moon calendar – (times are for Ireland and UK)

JANUARY        28th 19:18        Wolf Moon or Chaste Moon 

Coinciding with a lunar eclipse this year, this moon represents renewal, cleansing and transformation, let the past wash away and set new goals

FEBRUARY      27TH 08:19       Ice Moon

The coldest temperatures in the water, we look forward to spring and the lengthening of days

MARCH           28TH 18:50       Storm Moon

Spring is beginning to peep its head above ground but despite the crocuses bright flowers the water is still very cold, frost and the chance of snow have not yet departed

APRIL              27TH 03:33       Pink Moon

A Supermoon this year, the days are stretching and the water temperature just beginning to rise

MAY                26TH 11:14       Hare Moon

This is the 2ndSupermoon of 2021 and represents the birth of animals and giving of life

JUNE               24TH 18:40       Strawberry Moon

Summer Solstice is upon us, a social time. The Celtic Druidic name is Alban Hefinmeaning ‘Light of the Shore’ – the seashore is a special place where the three realms of Earth, Sea and Sky meet

JULY                24th 02:37        Thunder Moon Or Buck Moon

A time for thunderstorms and gathering herbs to dry for winter

AUGUST          22ND 12:02       Hungry Ghosts Moon

To provide light for lost souls to find their way safely back into the afterlife people would light water lanterns and float them on lakes, rivers, and pools. Also known as the Sturgeon Moon a time of abundance and satisfaction

SEPTEMBER    20TH 23:54       Harvest Moon

The well-known Harvest moon celebrates abundant times, although the air is getting colder the water still retains a little of summer

OCTOBER        20TH 14:57       Blood Moon

A time to prepare for winter, the Blood Moon or Hunters Moon scatters blue light so more red light reaches your eyes.

NOVEMBER    19TH 08:59       Mourning Moon

The time to prepare for winter, for Pagans after a full year of accumulating it is time to let go of old unnecessary things and give yourself permission to mourn their passing

DECEMBER     19TH 04:37       Cold Moon

Also known as Moon before Yule or Oak Moon – a time for strength and preparation.

SAFE SWIMMING AT NIGHT

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media

Night swimming is a magical experience with only the moon and stars to light our way but with this comes additional risks, so please be safe;

Never swim alone. Swimming in pairs or small groups will still allow you to enjoy the stillness and peace but afford a safer environment.

Check your exit. It’s very easy to lose sight of your exit point so place a marker, fairy lights draped over your bag, a glow-stick or torch placed where you can see it, or where it’s appropriate a small fire is lovely to return to.

Swim parallel to shore. All too tempting to follow that elusive silver trail of moonlight across the water but be wary of venturing too far from shore, cold incapacitation can hit suddenly and can hit any swimmer.

Get out while you still want more. As we head into the beginning of the new year the water and air temperatures are plummeting, cut your swim time accordingly, you will enjoy so many more swims this way.

Organise your kit. When you’re cold and shivering the last thing you want is to be fumbling in the dark for your woolly hat etc, so set out your gear in the order that you like to get dressed to make it as quick and easy as possible.

Enjoy a warming cuppa with friends. Finish the experience beautifully.

Respect others. Some people want to have a quiet and personal swim, be sensitive to your fellows, respect their space and enjoy.

Stay Safe!

Dennis Bree Swims a Mile a Day at Helens Bay to #EndFoodPoverty

Photos by Paul McCambridge, words by Maureen McCoy 

Many of us will have set ourselves a personal challenge at one time or another and this year has proven to be particularly apt with gyms, pools and sports clubs closed and a lot of folks either out of work or working from home, solo and outdoor challenges have soared. For many it’s a personal thing, health and wellbeing, a better lifestyle choice but sometimes we find a cause that we feel is so much greater than ourselves and incites us to use our talents to raise others awareness. 

Dennis Bree with his big wee brother Andrew

Dennis Bree, freestyle swimmer and brother of Olympic Breast-stroker Andrew heard of the plight of undernourished children in Belfast and decided he would help by raising funds for Life Hub NI, Belfast’s own food bank charity.

Dennis’ challenge; swim a mile a day in the sea for the entire month of November. 

His aim; to raise £10,000 

“I listened to Dr Julie-Ann Maney on local radio talking about the infants and children she treats in Belfast. Children who are so undernourished and hungry that they will tuck toast into their nappy in case they don’t get anything else to eat again that day.

This is 2020, this is so heart breaking and we have to do something to help.” 

Dennis was so moved by hearing Dr Julie-Ann Maney speak that he searched out the Belfast charity Life Hub NI and resolved to do what he could to support them.

Life Hub NI was set up in 2017 by Edmund Aruofor to provide fresh food parcels to support families and people in need in the Belfast area. 

With an energy and enthusiasm that belies his 60 years, Edmund told me how he starts his day at 4.30am, driving to supermarkets and independent stores who donate foodstuffs.

With a cheeky grin he says; 

“I’m 60 and I don’t feel it! I believe if you have a passion and a vision you don’t have time to get old!”

Working long hours every week and with the charity not closing for Christmas or Easter when would he find time to age? 

“I believe everyone who needs help should be given help”. 

Edmund has seen a huge increase in the amount of people needing this help since the pandemic with an average of 19 additional families every week earlier in the year, this week alone saw a staggering 30 new families reach out for aid.

It’s a far cry from his career as a printer in London and subsequently a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language when he settled in Belfast 5 years ago. Before that Edmund hadn’t been involved in food banks but his wife had. When he saw the need amongst his pupils’ in Belfast he knew what he had to do, and Life Hub NI was born. 

Edmund was aware of the amount of food that is wasted and believed he could get that food for free. He was right and M&S Forestside and Lisburn Road branches have supported Life Hub NI from the outset, he is now hoping wholesalers will come on board and be able to add to the produce it is his mission to collect and distribute.

As Christmas grows ever closer, more people are treading a fine line, we often hear of the plight of those having to choose between “heating or eating”, Edmund and his volunteers are doing an amazing job to try to alleviate at least part of the equation. 

With the generosity of Slims Healthy Kitchen, Life Hub NI have secured Christmas dinners for 250 adults and 110 children.

Funds raised by Dennis and others will help keep the vehicles on the road to gather and distribute supplies and aid in the running costs of storage and the Life Hub NI distribution centre in Townsend Enterprise Park.

To date (30thNovember 2020) Denis has smashed his £10k target and raised £10,480 

Donate at

http://bit.ly/32J1eH5

Or

https://uk.gofundme.com/f/help-stop-food-poverty-ni

#HubLife#EndFoodPoverty

Other ways to help;

With covid restrictions, Life Hub Ni have set up a bubble to which currently no more volunteers can be added but Edmund is calling out for businesses and wholesalers who may be able to help.

©MAC Visual Media – Belfast – 29th Nov 2020 Dennis Bree from Helen’s Bay, fist bumps Edmund Aruofor of Life Hub NI, after completing his penultimate one mile swim to raise funds for the food bank charity based in Townsend Street, Belfast. Picture by Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media.

Benderg Bay, Lecale Way, Co Down

©Paul McCambridge 2015 - MAC Visual MediaBenderg Bay, Lecale Way, Co Down

Benderg Bay, Lecale Way, Co Down

Words by Maureen McCoy, photography by Paul McCambridge                                      

Walk through the grasslands of Killard Nature Reserve to the beautiful Benderg Beach, home to sand martins and seals. Perfect to spend a sunny day swimming, picnicking and investigating the rock pools.

This superb strand stretching just over half a kilometre from the rocks of Killard Point to the sand cliffs and farmland which separate Benderg from its more popular neighbour Ballyhornan Beach.

You may see seals lounging at Mill Quarter Bay, where the strength of Strangford Lough’s tidal run creates whirlpools. This is not the place to swim, leave it to the seals. A twenty-minute walk from here through the orchid-filled grasslands of the nature reserve leads to the Beach. Tucked out of the way of Strangford’s powerful tidal race here you can swim in crystal-clear shallow waters as sand martins swoop from the cliffs across the bay.

©Paul McCambridge 2015 - MAC Visual MediaBenderg Bay, Lecale Way, Co Down

©Paul McCambridge 2015 – MAC Visual Media Benderg Bay, Lecale Way, Co Down

Getting there: take the A2 Shore Road out of Strangford. At Kilclief veer left towards Mill Quarter Bay. Park at the roadside lay-by from where signs point to the track leading into Killard Nature Reserve. Follow the path past the mouth of Strangford Lough. The rough track cuts through the grassland to Benderg Bay Beach. Roadside parking, no facilities, twenty-minute walk to beach.

Excerpt from Wild Swimming in Ireland 2016

Scenic walk / family friendly / secluded / snorkelling / rock pools / adventure swim /

Grid ref:J 60722 43067

 

Pollock Holes, Kilkee

50 - Clare - Pollock Holes and Kilkee Diving Boards - 01a WM

Swimming at Pollock Holes, Kilkee, Co Clare.

Words by Maureen McCoy, photography by Paul McCambridge

At the mouth of Kilkee’s horse-shoe bay step onto the barren and exposed landscape of the Duggerna Reef. Revealed at low tide, the reef is a plateau made up of slabs of rock smoothed by the twice daily ebb and flow of the sea. As the tide recedes several pools are revealed, these are the Pollock Holes.

Slipping into these sheltered pools where anemones wave their soft tentacles in search of unseen creatures the colourful underwater world is far removed from the hard and flat grey stone above. Even as the Atlantic rages at the edge of the reef creating swathes of sea foam which blows across the pools, gathering like curds and whey on the surface, one can peacefully swim and snorkel. The yellows and purples of underwater plants lighting up the pale waters.

Paul McCambridge - Diving - WIld Swimming in Ireland 02 WM

Off season at the diving boards near the Pollock Holes, Kilkee, Co Clare.  Near the Pollock Holes there is a tiny gap in the wall of the coastal road leading to a curved stairway. Passing signs of; diving prohibited / unsafe, the steps lead down to two newly refurbished boards which strain out along the side of the cliff.

These pools have become an institution and although well-known and even busy during summer they are well worth the visit. Check out the stepped diving area close to Kilkee beach. Warm up in the café with scones and hot coffee after your swim.

Excerpt from Wild Swimming in Ireland 2016

Couch to 5k – 2019

 

Couch to 5k 31

Couch to 5k Swim Programme 2019,

in association with Waterways Ireland

 

Written by Maureen McCoy

Photos by Paul McCambridge @ MAC Visual Media

Couch to 5k 11

The Couch to 5km Swim Programme is now in its third year and this season we started in mid-May for a 10 week programme of coaching and fitness training to develop swimmers skills, technique and endurance in preparation for a final distance event. The aim; to compete in the 5k at ILDSA’s Lough Erne Swim Event held on 27th July.

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The early start caused a little trepidation as for many it was their first venture into open water this year – and for some the first time ever! But the mild spring weather meant the water was bearable at the beginning and soon warmed to pleasant temperatures.

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Alongside a new group of outdoor swimming enthusiasts, 2019 saw the return of several swimmers from previous years; three of which were aiming for 10k as their final challenge distance!

After our first sessions at the Share Discovery Village we moved to explore several other venues on the Erne System and on our final swim of the programme we resurrected Year 1’s challenge; the circumnavigation of the scenic Devenish Island.

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Blessed with a scorcher of a day the crowd of swimmers, escorted by kayakers, set off from Trory Jetty to round the island – quite a surprise to the passengers waiting for the ferry! Making their way past the rushes where a swan family peered out at the brightly coloured hats of these humans swimming by. The swimmers turned, following the island shoreline towards the tower of Devenish. As they crossed Friar’s Leap a returned to the lee of the island a new set of ferry passengers were greeted with the novel sight of a group of swim caps and tow-floats bobbing through the water towards them.

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Three of the Ct5k swimmers opted for the slightly easier and shorter swim from Trory Jetty to Devenish jetty and back, a round trip of 1 mile. With a brief photo-stop ignoring the island no parking sign and then escorted by Damselflies on the return journey.

 

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Christine happily swimming back from Devenish Jetty, Dragonflies/Damselflies hitching a lift… https://www.hep6.com/dragonfly-damselfly-symbolism-facts-meaning-totem-spirit-power-animal/

For some of the Ct5k this Devenish swim was the prefect way to conclude the programme. For others it gave them the confidence and belief in their ability to go for the 5k ILDSA event.

Couch to 5k 01

From the Ct5k programme, 3 swimmers completed the Ted Keenan mile, 12 completed the 5k and 2 completed the 10k – both winning their categories.

Couch to 5k Cake 1a

 

Pastry Masterpiece made by Johnnie Walker… Devenish Tower standing proud with swimmers ploughing around the island, the varied colours of hat showing the different distances they chose to complete and the finish line at the Lakeland Forum – the conclusion of 2019’s Couch to 5k Swim Programme!

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Coaches Maureen McCoy, Kealan and Paul McCambridge from SWIMFREE Outdoor Swimming Association would like to thank WATERWAYS IRELAND as our title sponsor for all their support, the SHARE Discovery Village for providing a wonderful space to focus on technique and skills and the ILDSA for inviting Couch to 5k Swimmers.

Couch to 5k Swimmers Results;

 

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Female Skins                                                                        Male Skins

1st        Caroline Ogle                                                           1st        Ray Smith

2nd       Joanne O’Neill

3rd        Bronagh Corrigan

 

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@Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media – 27th July 2019 Lough Erne 5k + 10k Swim. Couch to 5k participants.

Female Wetsuit                                                       Male Wetsuit

1st        Anna Todd                                         1st        Gareth Brady

2nd       Donna McElhill

3rd        Jenny Elliott-York

 

Couch to 5k 18

Bonus results for Ct5k Swimmers;

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ILDSA 10k       1st Male Wetsuit Swimmer             Lee York

1st Male Skins Swimmer                 Tim Fagan

ILDSA 5k         2nd Male Wetsuit Swimmer                        Gareth Brady

 

Well done all!

Couch to 5k 02

*******************

 

https://wildswim.wordpress.com/

https://www.waterwaysireland.org/

https://sharevillage.org/

http://www.ildsa.info/index.php

 

The Legend of Jenny Watt

The Legend of Jenny Watt by Brian Meharg, Bangor Boats

Beautifully illustrated by Janet King

Book Cover 1

Bangor’s first children’s book by North Channel Pilot and amateur historian Brian Meharg has captured the imaginations of children and got them wanting to get outdoors and explore their local area.

Reviews:

Esther aged 8years

Esther Smith 1

“The whole idea of the Jenny Watt… it makes you want to find out more and maybe go to the place where the war was. Maybe if you went digging there you might find something magical. This book has a very good sense of adventure and it was very easy to read. I loved where in the very same spot where Jenny Watt was found there was a puppy. That book was just amazing. I love reading new books and I think this was one of the best books I’ve ever read… I thought it was just gorgeous.”

***************

Elijah aged 11years

Elijah Smith 1

“I thought this book explained the story very well. It made me think what it was like back then when there were smugglers. Whenever they got on their little boat and started smuggling the story got really intense. I loved it so much I read it all in one sitting. The Jenny Watts cave was so cool it made me want to go there and shout “Jenny where is Con” and she would hopefully reply.“gone”. I would recommend this book to children of all ages.

Ps. When I asked for a great book to read I defiantly got one.”

***********

Lovely reviews from 2 of my swimmers.

Author Brian Meharg signing my copy at Helens Bay…

Brian Meharg and Mo 1

Printed by Impact Printing, Coleraine & Ballycastle – 2018

ISBN 978-1-906689-84-1

Buying on eBay

Couch to 5k Swim 2019

couch to 5k-2019

Coming to Lough Erne for the third year running!

The Couch to 5k Swim Programme over the past two years has seen swimmers of various levels from new to open water, to seasoned swimmers working on building their endurance and speed.

The 2019 format will consist of five fortnightly coached sessions focusing on swim technique, skills and building endurance towards the end goal of either The Ted Keenan Mile or 5k ILDSA open water events. Swimmers are free to choose whether to wear a wet-suit or not.

Sponsored by Waterways Ireland

The primary venue is Share Discovery Village, Lisnaskea

Dates and times to be finalised.

Coaches: Maureen McCoy, Paul McCambridge, Kealan McCambridge

Watch this space…

Info at swimfree4@gmail.com

Couch to 5k Swim ’18

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 15a

Words Maureen McCoy

Photography Paul McCambridge and Kealan McCambridge

2018’s Couch to 5km Swim Programme ran throughout June and July with this summer treating us to extraordinarily good weather with clear skies, calm conditions and warm waters.

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040818MAC - Couch to 5k 05a

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Over the past two months almost 50 swimmers have taken on the challenge of building their swim skills, technique and endurance towards competing in the ILDSA Lough Erne Championship event held on the 4th August.

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Several of the swimmers had never ventured into open water before, some were learning a new stroke – Front Crawl, and others had the goal of improving their skills, confidence and endurance in open water.

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 01a

Coaches and mentors Maureen McCoy, Kealan and Paul McCambridge from SWIMFREE Outdoor Swimming Association, have worked with each of the swimmers to improve technique, ensure their safety and guide them through the various challenges swimming outdoors can raise, ultimately preparing for the ILDSA Lough Erne event.

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The culmination of their hard work was this Saturday when 30 of the Couch to 5k Swimmers completed the full 5 kilometre distance and 10 completed the Ted Keenan Mile swim.

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When all swimmers were safely and happily home, the ladies of Cootehill, Cavan and thereabouts played their final card – a picnic to rival all picnics! Alongside training and focusing on their own swims the ladies laid on the most wonderful spread of salads, cold cuts and cakes, all washed down with sparkling elderflower cordial… !

 

 

Swimmers took part in the Couch to 5k Swim Programme for many reasons and to mention one local man; Stephen Cooper of Enniskillen has been raising funds for Breast Cancer research. To date Stephen has raised just over £2500.

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 14a

If you would like to donate;

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stephen-cooper-kirsty-burrell

 

SWIMFREE coaches and organisers would like to thank WATERWAYS IRELAND for their sponsorship and support of the programme. SHARE Discovery Village, for providing a fantastic venue, friendly and helpful staff. ILDSA for facilitating Couch to 5k Swimmers and Swim Ireland for providing swim caps to the participants.

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 21a

The ILDSA has been running the Lough Erne 17km Irish Championship for over 25 years with the longer 25km distance added several years ago, both are “Skins” (ie non-wetsuit) swims, more recently adding 10k and 5k distances and this year was the first of the Ted Keenan Mile Swim.

 

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 22a

 

Couch to 5k Swimmers Results

Female Skins                                                             Male Skins

1st        Chrissy Lunny                                               1st        Tim Fagan

2nd       Polly Lyons                                                    2nd       Podge McKeon

3rd        Therese Macseain                                       3rd        Ray Smith

 

Female Wetsuit                                                       Male Wetsuit

1st        Nicola Burchmore                                      1st        Lee York

2nd       Ruth Durham                                              2nd       Stephen Cooper

3rd        Jenny Elliott York                                       3rd        Colm Connaughton

Well done all!

040818MAC - Couch to 5k 10a

 

 

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https://www.waterwaysireland.org/

https://sharevillage.org/

http://www.ildsa.info/index.php

Graduates Go to the Beach…

 

Ballyhornan Grads 13a

Words by Maureen McCoy, Photography by Paul McCambridge

Graduates Go to the Beach…

The blue waters of Lisburn pool may have seemed a little quiet last Thursday evening (14th June), the dwindling numbers were not due to a lack of enthusiasm though. No, a bunch of intrepid Graduates had in fact ventured outdoors.

Buoyed by the memory of previous such outings, a select few of us swapped the pool and instead headed to the beach at Ballyhornan.

After such a stormy Wednesday night and Thursday morning many feared the cancelation email would pop into their inbox. Do they not know their coach by now?

No wimping out!

Our little band of happy swimmers ready for their quest.

Ballyhornan Grads 11a 

Disclaimer: Had weather been truly bad, I assure you, I would have abandoned the swim in favour of the pub.

Ballyhornan Grads 10a

 

Despite the inclement day, the evening brightened and the wind eased. When we met at the beach at 6pm there was even a return of the sunshine we have grown accustomed to.

Soon the motley mad intrepid crew tootled their way to the water’s edge…

 

The Sea was crisp and fresh. Squeals of delight as we entered! Yes really, it WAS delight, NO ONE said it was FREEZING.

Ballyhornan Swim 1a

Ballyhornan Swim 6a

With a few acclimatisation practices we got underway – a short tester swim parallel to shore allowed us to settle our breathing and establish our beautifully relaxed and powerful strokes.

Ballyhornan Swim 2a

As our little party elegantly cruised along the bay we saw Terns swoop down to lift Fry from the water a little further out before soaring back up into the blue(ish) skies.

Ballyhornan Swim 9a

The briefest of squalls of rain allowed us to enjoy the magical experience and triggered a tuneful adaptation of a popular song: “We’re just Swimmin’ in the rain… what a Glor-ious feel-ing…”

Ballyhornan Swim 3a

As the skies cleared we retired from the water to later re-group at the Cuan in Strangford for a well-earned meal. Already planning next year’s outing!

 

Ballyhornan Grads 12a

Well done all with a special commendation to Adam and James, Waterpolo players who braved the elements sans wetsuit.

 

 

Ballyhornan Grads 14a 

  

Footnote: No Graduates were harmed during this adventure, all took part of their own volition. There was absolutely no intimidation, coercion or threats – coaches Mo and Paul deny any responsibility if anyone says otherwise.

Chunky Dunker’s New Years Swim 2018

Dunkers New Years 11a

Photos by Paul McCambridge, words by Maureen McCoy

Arriving at Donaghadee at a few minutes after 10am on the 1st day of 2018 and the carpark at the slipway was almost full. As more and more joined the gathering throng calling out “Happy New Years!” the festive atmosphere was buzzing at the water’s edge.

Dunker's New Years 3a

For several years Martin has been swimming regularly here, and the numbers of like-minded folk have swollen year on year. With flasks of tea, coffee or hot juice the regulars welcome all. We all pause rubbing our hands with a shiver in anticipation of the cold plunge to come.

Dunker's New Years 16a

A group photo and then the “Dunk” was open, encouraged to only swim as far as comfortable, 77 of us made our way down the slipway Mark Brooks’ Pink Flamingo provided a marker to follow.

Dunker's New Years 1a

Dunker's New Years 2a

Another swimmer towed a jolly Santa and the festive cheer was not dampened by the light skiff of rain that briefly flitted across the harbour.

Dunker's New Years 13a

Marrissa, the youngest Dunker enjoying a pre-birthday dip – despite having lost a tooth only a few hours before! I hope the tooth Fairy is generous!

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Butterfly cap worthy of Hollywood’s great Esther Williams… real pearls??

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Sporting a mixture of headwear; bright and flowery swim caps, woolly hats, even a christmas pudding hat, the Dunkers have once again managed to raise a great amount for charity on this the 12th of their Christmas Swims.

Dunker's New Years 8a

Happy New Year 2018!

Keep Swimming

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