Safe Outdoor Swimming #SOS

Featured

by Maureen McCoy and Paul McCambridge

Outdoor swimming is a great year-round sport and growing fast in popularity, but this is not the controlled environment of the swimming pool. There are often no life-guards, the shore may be further away than you think and the water is much cooler; the average public pool temperature is around 27’ – 28’ Centigrade, the average sea temperature around Ireland ranges from 8’ to 18’C. Add to that, wind chill and water movement and in February temps can get really low (I have personally recorded swims at 3’C!) Lakes tend to warm up and cool down quicker, some getting to icy depths in winter.  

If you can swim, you can swim outdoors, just as with any other outdoor activity, wild swimming is only dangerous if swimmers take unnecessary risks. Common sense and a little preparation can make it safe and fun. 

Remember that outdoor conditions – rain, wind the tides, ambient temperatures – change all the time. You will never have the same swim twice. This is why swimmers keep coming back for more, because wild swimming is never boring!

NEVER SWIM ALONE

The number one rule of swimming; always swim with a buddy, it gives you each a safety back-up and it’s more fun as a shared experience.

BE VISIBLE

Wear a bright swimming cap to make yourself visible to any boats or craft in the area. All that will be visible is your tiny head, which any wave more than a few inches will hide, and your flying arms – unless you breast stroke, in which case only your head will be visible. This is where tow-floats come in handy – much more visible to craft. 

SWIM PARALLEL & CLOSE TO SHORE

You can get back to safety more easily if you swim parallel to shore than if you swim straight out to sea or to the middle of a lake. 

Swim Failure can happen to ANY swimmer, this is when the muscles are too cold to respond to the nerve signals and the swimmer can no longer keep themselves above water. If you stay close, in depth and swim with a buddy this will not end in tragedy.

GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL WANT MORE

Your body temperature will continue to drop as you swim and in cooler temperatures (below 10’C) you may soon risk Swim Failure (mentioned above). This starts to take effect in as little as 10 minutes. Add to that, the body continues to cool after swimming for a further 20 minutes. Get out wanting more and your whole experience will be a positive one!

WATCH THE WEATHER

Don’t try to swim in very rough conditions; no matter how strong you think you are the water is always more powerful. It is very difficult to breathe or navigate in choppy water. In FOG you will lose your bearings and will not be visible to others.

BE AWARE OF THE COLD

Recent findings state that around 60% of drownings in Britain and Ireland are due to Cold Shock Response the immediate physical response to sudden cold which causes involuntary inhalation. In waters around 15’ C it can be difficult for even strong swimmers to hold their breath when suddenly immersed. It takes an inhalation of only 1.5 litres of water to drown an adult.

The solution? DO NOT jump straight in – no matter how inviting the water looks. Instead follow the ritual of seasoned outdoor swimmers; get in slowly, wet your arms and face, lower yourself in gently, swim head up at first to acclimatise and control your breathing. Then, once you are no longer gasping or out of breath you may put your head down and speed off. 

Body temperature drops extremely quickly in the water and after swimming you may experience a further drop – after drop. Be sure to have warm clothes to change into, a hat and warm drink after your swim.

KNOW YOUR LIMITS

Know your own swimming ability, how well you can function in the cold and your knowledge of currents, tides and your ability to read the conditions. If you are less confident, swim with an experienced group or buddy, stay within your depth and close to an easy exit point. 

TOW FLOAT

Tow floats are NOT life-saving devices so do not rely on them for that purpose. They do, however, make a swimmer much more visible to other water traffic. They can also be used if you need a short rest on a long swim but remember that your temperature will drop very quickly when you are inactive in the water.

Again, the most important piece of equipment is yourself; your own competence and judgement.

ESSENTIAL KIT

A SENSE OF ADVENTURE! 

All outdoor swimmers have a little rebel streak in them. Celebrate that and enjoy the exploration of new places, or old ones seen from a new perspective.

#SWIMSENSE

It seems tedious to re-iterate but use your noggin! If your gut feeling is it’s a bad idea – then it probably is. Confidence is all very well but competence is key; know your own limitations in swimming ability and your capacity to deal with the cold. Seek advice from others and start gently, enjoy building your confidence, skill and power in the water.

DESIRABLE KIT 

SWIM SUIT

Essential at popular beaches but there are plenty more places where this is optional!… 

GOGGLES

Great for seeing clearly underwater, keep your eyeballs from feeling as if they are going to freeze and generally for seeing where you are going. They have a nasty habit of steaming up, though, so prepare them beforehand (with a smear of baby shampoo then wipe dry) or a generous amount of spit may be required.

CAP

Keeps hair out of your eyes, can help to minimise water in the ears (when pulled down enough) and provides a layer of insulation (there are times when you are glad of that few millimetres of silicone). Caps come in a range of types, styles and of course colours, if sea-swimming go for bright neon’s which are more likely to be seen. Silicone caps beat latex for thickness and insulation and are less likely to tear. Neoprene hoods tend to be favoured by triathletes and some winter swimmers, they give more insulation but swimmers used to caps may find the chin strap inhibiting.

CHANGING TOWEL

Keeps you decent on busy beaches and provides something of a windbreak. There are many on the market and budget is your only limitation – I still love my trusty hand-crafted version, modelled on the ones mum made for my brothers and me when we were small.

HOT WATER BOTTLE

Part of my essential winter kit, either already filled with my socks tucked inside the cover (heavenly!) or a spare flask of hot water ready to fill it when I get out. 

FLASK OF HOT BEVERAGE

Smooth, creamy and indulgent hot chocolate is a popular choice but any warm drink is a great way to warm up after a swim. Most will accompany this with a sweet snack.

THERMAL UNDIES

Not the most flattering but they are simply great. 

VERY WARM BOOTS

For after the swim, especially winter swims, a fleece-lined boot you can pull on is oh so nice – I’ve been known to stuff disposable hand warmers into my socks too!

BEST REASONS TO SWIM OUTDOORS

“Going swimming” now means a day trip to the beach or lake or mountains with a warm-up drink and scone after, or better still the pub where you can cosy up to the fire sipping Guinness. (Let us hope those times return!)

Boosts the immune system; this is not yet backed up by medical evidence but any year-round swimmer will tell you when they swim through the winter they simply don’t get a cold. (Since time of writing there has been increased research into health benefits of cold water swimming.)

Feel good factor – undoubtedly the best reason for doing it is that it’s fun!

Excerpt from Wild Swimming in Ireland 2016, ISBN 978-1-84889-280-4

Still to come

Tips for Winter Swimming

Tips for Night Swimming

Tips for Front Crawl 

Festive Swims + Dips 2018

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual MediaSanta Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

Halloween is over and now we race towards Christmas, with days getting shorter there’s a call to make the most of the daylight…

A quick dip with friends or family and maybe even raising some funds for a worthy cause… why not check out a local event;

Polar Plunge for Special Olympics;

“with 7 locations nationwide there’s bound to be a plunge near you”

Connaught
Date Location Sign up details
Sat 1st Dec

11.30am

Rosses Point

Co Sligo

https://community.specialolympics.ie/polar-plunge2018/rosses-point-polar-plunge
Leinster
Sat 1st Dec

11am

Clogherhead Beach

Co Louth

https://community.specialolympics.ie/mcf/events/2018/polar-plulnge2018/clogherhead-polar-plunge-2018
Sat 8th Dec Rosslare Strand

Co Wexford

https://community.specialolympics.ie/rosslare-polar-plunge-2018
Sat 8th Dec 40ft Sandycove

Dun Laoghaire

https://community.specialolympics.ie/sandycove-polar-plunge
Munster
Sat 1st Dec

1pm

The Dock Beach, Kinsale

Co Cork

https://community.specialolympics.ie/kinsale-polar-plunge
Ulster
Sat 1st Dec

11am

Titanic Quarter Belfast https://community.specialolympics.ie/belfast-polar-plunge
Sat 15th Dec

10am

Rathmullan Strand

Co Donegal

https://community.specialolympics.ie/rathmullan-polar-plunge

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Newcastle Xmas dip 3a

Turkey Swims, Sandycove & Myrtleville, Co Cork

12 noon is Turkey Swim Time – All welcome, alternating Sandycove / Myrtlville

Sign in and pay €2 on the day

Money collected goes towards prizes drawn on the 23rd at Fountainstown, excess money and all money collected on the final weekend goes to RNLI

Dates;

Sunday 11th Nov – Myrtleville, 12noon

Sunday 18th Nov – Sandycove, 12noon

Sunday 25th Nov -Myrtleville, 12noon

Sunday 2nd Dec – Sandycove, 12noon

Sunday 9th Dec – Myrtleville, 12noon

Sunday 16th Dec – Sandycove, 12noon

Saturday 22nd Dec – Sandycove, 3pm

Sunday 23rd Dec – Fountainstown, 10am

Further details; https://sandycoveswimmers.com/

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©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual MediaSanta Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

Gathering of Friends Christmas Swim – Pier to Pier – Carlingford, Co Louth 

Monday 24th December 12noon – assemble on each pier 11.45am safety briefing.

Two way swimmers assemble at pier closest to sailing club. One way assemble at King John’s pier.

Bucket collection for Carlingford Day Centre.

Safety boat provided.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual MediaSanta Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

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Dare to Dip for Cancer Focus, Crawfordsburn Beach Bangor, Co Down

1st January 2019 11am – 1pm

Cancer FocusNI’s New Year’s Day Dip is back for the 4th year running!

Registration: £10 Suggested Sponsorship: £50

https://cancerfocusni.org/fundraising/events/

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©Paul McCambridge – Portrush – 18th December 2016 Hundreds turned out for Portrush’s annual Santa Splash in aid of the Childrens Heartbeat Trust organised by the Acradia Bathing Club.

Arcadia Bathing Club Santa Splash – Portrush, Co Antrim

Sunday 16th December 1.30pm East Strand Portrush

Charity – RNLI

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Dunker's New Years 2a

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media 1st January 2018 Donaghadee Chunky Dunkers New Years Swim

Donaghadee Chunky Dunkers 12 Swims of Christmas, Co Down

Wed 5th December – 10am

Thur 6th December – 10:30am

Fri 7th December – 11am

Sat 8th December – 12noon

Sun 9th December – 12:30pm

Fri 21st December – 10am

Sat 22nd December – 10:30am

Sun 23rd December – 11:30am

Mon 24th December – 12noon

Tue 25th December – 1pm

We’d 26th December – 2pm

Sun 30th December – 4pm

Proceeds to Epilepsy Action N I and Assisi Animal Sanctuary.

Dunkers New Years 11a

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media 1st January 2018 Donaghadee Chunky Dunkers New Years Swim

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Lough Neagh Monster Dunkers – Oxford Island, Co Armagh

Saturday 15th December 10am – Soup and chat After

Lough Neagh Discovery Centre

Skins Only

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©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual MediaSanta Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

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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.

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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!

Dunker's New Year 20a

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

Dunker's New Years 10a

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

Dunker's New Years 19a

Dunker's New Years 7a

Dunker's New Years 6a

Dunkers New Year 14a

Dunker's New Years 12a

Dunker's New Years 15a

UPDATED – “HO HO HO it’s CHRISSSMAS” – 2017 Festive Swims + Dips

Newcastle Xmas dip 1a web

Christmas Swims 2017

It’s time to dust off those Santa hats, shake up the Mistletoe and don the Festive Swim Suits as all over Ireland folks will be getting In the Swim to raise money for worthy causes… There’s bound to be a dip near you!

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Co Antrim

Portrush Santa Splash – 17th December 2017 – Arcadia Portrush
1.30pm

UPDATE – Photos of 2017 Santa Splash Below

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Co Down

Donaghadee – Chunky Dunkers – 12 swims of Christmas

A fun bunch who meet for daily dips

https://www.facebook.com/groups/319941478354115/permalink/486344695047125/

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Crawfordsburn Beach – Dare to Dip for Cancer Focus N.I. – New Year’s Day 11am
Every dipper will receive a free Cancer Focus NI t-shirt and hot drink after their swim.Fancy dress is encouraged- there will be a prize for the best outfit!

For more information call 028 9068 0788 or email challenge@cancerfocusni.org https://www.facebook.com/events/1677339799008125/

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Newcastle swim 2a web

 

 

Co Cork

Turkey Swims

https://myrtlevilleswimmers.com/category/events/

Sunday 26th November Sandycove 10am

Saturday 2nd December Sandycove 3pm

Sunday 10th December Sandycove 11am

Saturday 16th December Myrtleville 11am

Saturday 23rd December Fountainstown 10.30am

How the ‘Turkey Swims’ work:

** Swimmers Sign In and pay €2 on the day of Swim. (someone will have a money box and sign-in sheet – probably Carol, Angela or Eoin).

** Money Collected goes towards Prizes drawn on 23rd Dec at Fountainstown.

This is open to everyone who swims regularly in the Sea, no matter where they normally swim.  This is not exclusive to any club or group of swimmers

Info

Remember this is open to everyone who swims regularly in the Sea, no matter where they normally swim.  This is not exclusive to any club or group of swimmers, If you want to swim on a date, come along, find a swim buddy and join in, no matter where the swim is on! The Sandycove times are based on tides and at Myrtleville we can swim on any tide so there is a mix of Morning/afternoon times to try and suit all people over both days of the weekend.  Wetsuit, Skins, Fins, all welcome!

How the ‘Turkey Swims’ work:

** Swimmers Sign In and pay €2 on the day of Swim. (someone will have a money box and sign-in sheet – probably Carol, Angela or Eoin).

** Money Collected goes towards Prizes drawn on 23rd Dec at Fountainstown,

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Chunky Dunkers 1a web

Co Wexford

Carne Beach, Wexford – St.Stephen’s Day Swim – 26th December 12pm

In aid of Our Ladies Island N.S – Donations welcome on the day & sponsorship cards available from the school Tel: (053) 913 1113

Funds raised will go towards new playground equipment and painting the school.

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Polar Bear Plunge – Ireland and N. Ireland Venues

Special Olympics Ireland is a sports organisation for people with an intellectual disability, but we also provide our athletes with far more than the physical benefits of sport.

By taking part in a fundraising event like the Polar Plunge, you are changing lives.

Polar Plunge is one of our biggest fundraising events of the year thanks to the hundreds of plungers who take to the water across the country.

Registration fee is €20 and we ask that you fundraise an extra €50 to help support the programme and our athletes.

By fundraising for Special Olympics Ireland you are helping to change the lives of thousands of athletes all over Ireland.

 

 

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Co Monaghan

Hollywood Lake – Near Scotstown – 24th December 2017

Mucking Triathlon Club

Christmas Eve Charity Swim in Aid of – Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust

https://www.facebook.com/MucknoTriathlonClub/

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Photographs of Santa Splash 2017 in Aid of Aware NI – Portrush.

 

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

Santa Splash in Aid of Aware NI

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

The Wilson Family enjoying the festive splash

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

The maestro of Santa Splash Stephen McConnell

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media
Santa Splash 2017, Portrush.

 

 

 

Santa Splash 2016 – Portrush

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Portrush’s East Strand was a hive of activity when I arrived. I did wonder where I should go to register for the swim but the steady stream of people all sporting various Santa hats assured me I was at the right place. It looked as though most of Portrush had turned up, all bedecked with festive regalia besides the customary hats. One chap had an extremely smart Christmas jacket, there were many woollen jumpers and in the crowd I spied a very fetching reindeer onesie, I may have to ask Santa for one of those myself… cosy after a swim.

I followed the surging crowd and we wound our way along the prom towards the Arcadia Gallery and small beach. Up the steps facing the beach at Café 55° North the queue condensed as we all pushed our way to sign up for the swim and pop a donation in one of the many buckets. This year, the 8th of the Santa Splash, the chosen charity was the Children’s Heartbeat Trust, a local charity.

Over the past 7 years the Arcadia Bathing Club have raised several thousands of pounds for various charities. Each year they choose a charity that someone in the club has links to.

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The first Santa Splash was very low-key, just a few pals asking for sponsorship and taking a dip at the Arcadia beach. Each year the numbers grow and they have had to move to the East Strand because Arcadia beach isn’t big enough!

Little islands of discarded clothing soon formed on the sand and we crowded on the steps for a short pre-swim brief, I’m afraid I have no idea what was said but next I knew the hooter sounded and we all began to race down to the sea. Photographers braved the stampede of swimsuits and Christmas hats as several hundred charged, one aim in mind, hit the water running!

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The Santa Splash is certainly the biggest Christmas dip I have seen with a massive crowd cheering from the side lines. Once dressed the party went on at 55° North with hot food and mulled wine being served to the swimmers, music and a raffle.

Stephen, chief organiser on the day, told me a little about the ABC. Formed as it was many years ago it was recently resurrected by Stephen and several pals. “We used to have silly rules, like no over-arm strokes in the summer months. In the winter you were allowed swim front crawl to keep a bit warmer. We’ve abandoned that as now we have so many swimmers!”

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ABC swimmers meet every Sunday, 10.30am, all welcome but to get a member’s certificate and be eligible to buy their fleece you must swim a minimum of once a month for twelve consecutive months. I might just try that…I do like their swim cap!

Thanks Arcadia for a great splash see you very soon!

Seasonal Swims of 2016

 

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Please email us your Seasonal Swims and we’ll add them to our list swimfree4@gmail.com

Wildswim.wordpress.com does not organise any of these swims, we have simply collated a list for general interest … please remember that all swimmers swim at their own risk …

LOUGH HYNE LAPPERS … Every Sunday throughout the winter, 11.30am … meet for swims, all welcome, Lough Hyne, Co Cork

https://www.facebook.com/LoughHyneLappers/

12 SWIMS OF CHRISTMAS … Donaghadee Chunky Dunkers … Check out the Chunky Dunkers Facebook page, these are not organised events and all swimmers swim at their own risk…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/319941478354115/?fref=nf

FREEZING FOR A REASON … Special Olympics Polar Plunge …

3rd December:

Titanic Quarter, Belfast 11am  /  Forty Foot, Dublin 1pm  /  Clougherhead Beach, Co Louth 1pm  /  Rosslare Strand, Co Wexford 1pm

10th December:

Ringaskiddy, Cork 12n  /  Salthill Promenade, Galway 1pm  /  Rathmullan, Donegal 1.30pm

Registration: £15 / €15 plus additional fundraising requested, see link below. 

Special Olympics Ireland Polar Plunge 2016

TURKEY SWIMS 2016 … throughout December, Co Cork …

Sunday 27 Nov, 2.30pm Sandycove

Sat 3rd Dec 12.30 Myrtleville

Sat 10th Dec 12.30 Sandycove

Sat 17th Dec 11.00am Myrtleville

Sun 18th Dec 10.00am Sandycove

https://sandycoveswimmers.com/2016/10/15/turkey-swims-2016/

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SANTA SPLASH … 18th December 1.30pm … Arcadia Beach / East Strand Portrush

Swimming costume & a Santa Hat … £5 minimum donation to Children’s Heartbeat Trust

Arcadia Bathing Club every Sunday 10.30am … All swims at your own risk.

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=arcadia%20bathing%20club

PIER TO PIER … Christmas Eve 9.30am … Carlingford, Co Louth

https://www.facebook.com/events/1131397306928279/

Registration at 8.45am

Any enquiries or to help out with this event
Contact Jennifer: +353863983403 loudyank@gmail.com

OPERATION FREEZE KNEES … Christmas Day 12noon…. Portstewart Strand and all donations go to the Coleraine Hospice Support Group.

CHRISTMAS DAY SWIM … 11.30am … Newcastle Harbour, Co Down… Donations in aid of Motor Neurone Disease.

BOXING DAY… 10.45 for 11 am plunge… Bangor – Ballyholme Yatch Club… Donations in aid of Action Medical Research – SPARKS NI

www.action.org.uk/boxing-day-swim

DARE TO DIP … New Years Day 11.00am … Crawfordsburn Beach, Co Down

https://cancerfocusni.org/events/dare-to-dip/

NEW YEARS SPLASH … AWARE-ni … Monday 2nd January 12noon for 12.30 splash… Newcastle Beach (near Sleeve Donard Hotel)

www.aware-ni.org/newyearsplash.html

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Winter Solstice Ice Swim Ireland – 3rd Session

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Words by Maureen McCoy

Photos by Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media

Today, a choppy and windy swim was followed by me, and each swimmer, being bundled into a warm, wood-panelled cabin. A hot towel was thrown around my shoulders and a cosy fire burning in the stove, what a treat! I was soon comfortable, hugging my hot water bottle and sadly contemplating braving the outside world again, just a few minutes more though.

It was a rude introduction into todays’ swim. I usually take my time, walk in slowly and huff and puff before I’ll even get my hands wet but, with the boys all striding with purpose down the carpeted slipway and launching themselves straight in, I felt a little rushed. So, not wanting to be left behind, I walked further and faster than usual, then promptly fell off the end of the runway! Nothing for it but to swim on and do my puffing as I swam, with the first pink buoy teasingly bobbing on the waves, chuckling as I approached and the added menace of a leaky goggle. In all fairness, the kayakers were on the ball, as one came racing over to me I quickly shouted “It’s the goggles!” before I would be whipped out to safety.

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I enjoy choppy water but today felt colder than the last time I was in – yet it was a degree milder – that’s the wind-chill effect. I’m sure not the effect of Friday evenings Christmas celebrations! Honest, I only had hot chocolate last night and then early to bed.

As ever at Camlough, there was a wealth of happy supporters, spirits were high and the atmosphere was buzzing, so much so that David couldn’t resist an impromptu dip!

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I hope you enjoyed it!!

Thank you to all the Camlough team for a well organised event – (despite Padraig still being mean!)

And thanks to all the Ice swim volunteers, it’s so good to be welcomed by so many friendly faces encouraging and helping – you all know what it feels like and those of us swimming really appreciate your time and effort.

Happy Yuletide

 

…and Safe Swimming to one and all!

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