COPE Galway has thanked people across Galway and further afield for showing tremendous solidarity and support for those in need at Christmas.
The cold December weather did not deter almost 900 swimmers from taking part in COPE Galway’s ten-day ‘Swim Where You Are’ event, which ended on December 30.
The local charity says it was overwhelmed by the swim photos and messages of support sent in despite not being able to hold its traditional Christmas Day Swim at Blackrock.
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.
And the rain did not prevent TY students at Coláiste na bPiarsach in Rosmuc from swimming locally, receiving a $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 before jumping in to the water from 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 eleventh year in a row, said the weather has never prevented her from ‘braving the cold’ with her sister. She said that 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!” said Catherine.
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.
“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.”
Lynia said that the funds raised will allow the charity to continue to deliver services for people experiencing homelessness, domestic abuse and services for older people in the local area.
Funds from the swim go directly towards keeping these vital services operating.