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Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 19 January 2022

Taoiseach among dozens taking the dive at the Forty Foot for a festive swim today

There was a steady stream of people throughout the morning and early afternoon taking part in the swim.

christmas-day-swim-dublin Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett (furthest right) take part in the annual Christmas Day swim Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

THE TAOISEACH WAS among scores of brave swimmers who enjoyed a bracing start to Christmas Day with a dip in the sea.

Leo Varadkar, accompanied by his partner Matthew Barrett, was smiling as he emerged from the sea at the Forty Foot diving spot at Sandycove in Dublin.

christmas-day-swim-dublin Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

He said it was a nice way to start the day, adding that he planned to visit some of the public sector staff working on Christmas Day in hospitals and fire stations later in the day.

christmas-day-swim-dublin Varadkar after emerging from the Forty Foot earlier Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

While Varadkar said it was his third time enjoying a seasonal dip, others taking to the sea in both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic were more frequent regulars.

christmas-day-swim-dublin Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

There was a steady stream of people at the Forty Foot throughout the morning, as well as in dozens of other annual festive swims around the country.

LR TRAMORE XMAS DAY SWIM  758A3513 Hundreds took to the seas in Tramore, Co Waterford this morning. Source: Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

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

christmas-day-swim-dublin Yet more jumping from the Forty Foot Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

With the water temperature measuring a fresh 8.5C, 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.”

christmas-day-swim-donaghadee Members of the Donaghadee Chunky Dunkers take part in a Christmas morning swim in the Co Down town Source: Rebecca Black/PA Images

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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