What's Happening in Belfast blog

Hundreds take part in charity dip in freezing sea

Brave swimmers made a splash this New Year’s Day when they took a dip in the chilly winter waters at Ballycastle Beach and Portrush to raise money for the children’s charity CLIC Sargent.

It was all a good cause but the courageous participants didn’t spend long in the water, even though the temperatures were much higher than last New Year.

One exhibitionist taking part in the event wore a Borat-style lime green mankini, but luckily he covered his modesty with some trunks underneath.

A record 93 people took part at Carnlough Harbour in Portrush, with veteran Geoff Bell braving his 40th swim.

The 55-year-old fitness instructor said that it was “best cure for a hangover” and the “maddest thing I do each year”.

The event also raises money for the Northern Ireland Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus and has raised thousands of pounds for the charity over the years.

Branch chairman, Billy McIlroy, hopes that more people will take part in the swim next year.

“At midday everyone dives in and the crowd loves it,” Mr McIlroy said.

“Fortunately in all these years we have never had to cancel the swim. I thought we were going to have to cancel last year because it was so cold, but it turned out ok. It takes a lot to deter our swimmers from coming out.”

Billy loves the event, but you won’t ever catch him taking a dip: “I can’t swim a stroke, so that’s my excuse!” Billy laughed.


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