Christmas Day swimmers take to the sea across Ireland

Brave swimmers across Ireland have enjoyed a bracing start to Christmas Day with a dip in the sea.

Regular sea swimming groups along with those up for the novelty took part in dips in both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

One of the best-attended swims was at the Forty Foot diving spot at Sandycove in Dublin, where a steady stream of people took to the water throughout the morning.

Members of the Donaghadee Chunky Dunkers take part in a Christmas Day swim in the Co Down town (Rebecca Black/PA)

In Donaghadee, Co Down, a group who swim every day of the year, assembled on the slipway at 10.30am.

With the water temperature measuring a fresh 8.5C (47.3F), there were shrieks and chuckles as dozens entered the water.

Martin Strain, from the Donaghadee Chunky Dunkers, said the seasonal swim was one of 12 sponsored dips raising money for charity.

“We go in every day, 365 days of the year, unless it’s not safe,” he said.

“There’s a buzz about this time of year, this is part of our 12 swims of Christmas, so we build up to this and then it goes right to New Year’s Day, which is the final of our 12 sponsored swims for charity.”

Mr Strain said he has found daily sea swims to be beneficial for both his physical and mental health.

“It’s such an empowering thing, such a liberating thing, it’s life-affirming. It really has changed a lot of people’s lives through their mental health,” he said.

“Personally, I struggled with really bad mental health issues for a very long time and, whilst this hasn’t been a panacea, it has certainly helped my mental health.”

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