COPE Galway Christmas Swim sees almost 900 register to “Swim Where You Are” in December
The local charity thanks supporters of their ten-day Christmas swim event.
COPE Galway has extended a huge thank you to Galwegians near and far who have shown solidarity and support for local people in need this Christmas. The cold December weather has not deterred almost 900 swimmers from taking part in the 10-day COPE Galway “Swim Where You Are” Christmas swim event, which ended December 30. The local charity is overwhelmed by the swim photos and messages of support sent in while they could not hold their traditional Christmas Day Swim at Blackrock this year.
For many Galwegians, this Christmas is about remembering and supporting our community while we connect with family as much as we can during restrictions. One swim participant, Jane Gleeson, captured the essence of this when she tweeted, “The sea has provided some much-needed respite this year. Now it’s our turn to give back by raising funds for vulnerable communities affected by homelessness and domestic abuse in the form of the COPE Galway Christmas Swim”.
Some participants used the COPE Galway swim as a basis for their own tailor-made fundraisers. Knocknacarra National School Staff took on the challenge and 18 teachers swam for COPE Galway. Salthill swimmers Laurie Link-Gordon and Gráinne Faller set up a fundraiser and swam every day in December. Coláiste na bPiarsach in Rosmuc didn’t let the rain deter their TY students from swimming locally, enticing one $500 donation from as far away as America.
“It has definitely been a tough year for us all, but I’m hoping to raise money and awareness for the people who need it,” said Diarmuid Lynch, who took it to another level by completing a half marathon (21.1km) from Rinville to Salthill and straight in for a swim from the Blackrock Tower. He also shaved off his beard after the swim, fulfilling a promise to his supporters as he surpassed his fundraising target.
Catherine Lyons, who swam for the 11th year in a row, said the weather has never prevented her from “braving the cold” with her sister. She said, “The swim has become an integral part of our Christmas Tradition. We always try to bring some festive fun in how we dress, from Santa hats to funky Christmas glasses to even wearing a Santa onesie one year!” Because of social distancing, this year Catherine’s sister Aine did her swim at home in a cold bath tub.
Lynia O’Brien, COPE Galway’s Senior Fundraising Executive summed up the event on its final day: “For the past 31 years, the swim has been an important Galway Christmas tradition. With people sacrificing so much due to the pandemic this year, we felt it was important to find a way to keep this tradition alive, not only as a vital source of fundraising income, but because we wanted to offer an opportunity for those who couldn’t make it home for Christmas to feel connected to family and to Galway”.
Lynia continued, “Our services have seen more people than ever before in need of support this year. We are so grateful to the Galway community at home and further afield, who embraced this challenge and who have supported our work throughout the year. The funds raised allow us to continue to deliver our services for people experiencing homelessness, domestic abuse and services for older people in Galway.
Funds from the swim go directly towards keeping these vital services operating. If you wish to contribute, please visit www.copegalway.ie/donate to make a donation.For pictures of the COPE Galway Christmas Day Swim event, please visit the COPE Galway Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages for updates over the coming days.