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Sunday 19 January 2020

Leo takes the festive plunge along with other Forty Foot swimmers

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and partner Matthew Barrett get ready for a dip at the Forty Foot in Sandycove. Photo: Mark Condren
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and partner Matthew Barrett get ready for a dip at the Forty Foot in Sandycove. Photo: Mark Condren

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar joined hundreds of swimmers who braved the icy waters of Dublin bathing spot the Forty Foot for the traditional Christmas Day swim.

Regular sea swimming groups along with those up for the novelty were out in force in Sandycove from early yesterday as a steady stream of people took to the water.

Mr Varadkar took a "very cold" dip alongside partner Matthew Barrett ahead of his plans to visit staff working in the public sector.

Also there was first-time Christmas Day swimmer Esther Welsh, who is spending her first Christmas in Ireland after moving from England.

"It was amazing, such an atmosphere here. We're so glad we're doing it. It's freezing cold, though," she said.

"I'd absolutely do it again. I thought it would be a bit warmer, that's why I put together this festive outfit."

Tess Carin, who was visiting from Australia, also took the plunge for the first time and said the water was "God awful freezing", but that she will "definitely do it again".

Shock

Glen Brennan, from Clondalkin, said this year was his first and last swim.

"It was so cold - it was a shock when I first jumped in. It's my first year doing it and it's my last as well," he said.

Local John Lee video-called his daughter Geralyn Lee, who lives in London, during his dip in the water.

More revellers start off their day with a splash. Photo: Mark Condren
More revellers start off their day with a splash. Photo: Mark Condren

"She's a barmaid in Cricklewood. She's gone the past seven years and she's working today. I miss her badly, she usually does the swim with me," he said.

Meanwhile, Patrick Corkery of the NAC Masters Swimming Club dressed up as Santa Claus for his traditional festive swim - something he has done for the past 30 years.

"I came out with my family, my wife Alice and my son Matthew who's eight. We make a day of it. We come down every year at Christmas for this and I always dress as Santa. It gets me out of the kitchen," he said.

They weren't the only swimmers braving the chilly waters, with people across the country abandoning their lazy Christmas mornings for a quick dip.

More than 1,000 swimmers took part in the Christmas swim held on Banna Beach in Co Kerry. The money collected on the day will go to the Banna Sea Rescue unit.

Patrick Corkery braving frosty waters at the Forty foot in Sandycove on Christmas morning. Photo: Mark Condren
Patrick Corkery braving frosty waters at the Forty foot in Sandycove on Christmas morning. Photo: Mark Condren

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