Hardy swimmers take to the water for annual festive swim

Onlookers in good cheer as participants take to the icy waters for traditional Forty Foot swim

Dozens gathered at the waters edge at Sandycove’s Forty Foot for the annual Christmas Day swim.

While temperatures were nowhere near the minus 7 degrees recorded at the famous bathing area on Christmas Day in 2010, a forecast high of just 6 degrees meant it was still very cold and many felt the need to follow-up with a hot whisky to help recover some heat.

Those participating in other swims and charity events around the country better be prepared for the cold. Met Éireann said the day would be mainly dry, bright and cold with isolated showers to the north and west of the country. Frost will clear this morning and temperatures slowly rise to just 5 or 6 degrees.

Irish Water Safety is appealing to the public to take extreme care when taking part in sponsored swims.


Swimmers should beware of the danger posed by “cold shock” which can be caused by cold winter waters. Hypothermia can set in within minutes, overwhelming the fittest of swimmers.

There is a danger that swimmers who become distracted by the occasion sometimes take chances beyond what is acceptably safe and can be left without sufficient strength to climb out of the water due to the cold.

Warning of the dangers posed by alcohol, Irish Water Safety said it is “a fallacy” that alcohol will keep swimmers warm when entering the water. “In fact it has the reverse effect and could kill you”.

Swimmers raise tens of thousands of euro for charity each year and while it might be the most high-profile of swims, the Forty Foot Christmas swim is only one of many that take place around the country. Others include Rosses Point in Co Sligo, the Cope in Galway at Blackrock, Salthill, 10am to 1pm (copegalway.ie), Cork Simon (corksimon.ie) at Whitebay, in east Cork at noon, and the RLNI at Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club in Dublin at 12.15pm

Éanna Ó Caollaí

Éanna Ó Caollaí

Iriseoir agus Eagarthóir Gaeilge An Irish Times. Éanna Ó Caollaí is The Irish Times' Irish Language Editor, editor of The Irish Times Student Hub, and Education Supplements editor.