HARDY BRRREED: Pandemic precautions mean New Year’s Day Carnlough charity swim is called off but is replaced with Ice Bucket Challenge

Scenes from a previous Carnlough event. The picture has been shared on the Carnlough New Year Day Swimmers page.

NOT content with pandemic precautions preventing them from literally diving into 2021 that hardy breed who take part in the annual New Year’s Day Carnlough charity swim have opted instead to pour buckets of ice over their heads.

The Carnlough swim is always held on January 1 but the pandemic means the organisers have ‘postponed’ the 2021 event – which saw over 80 people take the plunge at Carnlough Harbour this year.

However, determined not to be beaten they have decided to do a socially distanced ice bucket challenge which they believe will replicate the temperature of the January 1 North Channel waters of Carnlough.

Billy McIlroy, BEM, the chairman of the Ballymena branch of the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association, said: “January 1st, 2021 would have been the 50th Anniversary of the Swim which was instigated by the four late Members John McNeil, Billy Bell, Danny Wylie, and Aidan Metrusty with Geoff Bell being the first Swimmer to start off the Annual Event.

“The Association, after discussing the current Covid 19 situation with Geoff, Bert Kernohan, Angela McClements, Mid and East Antrim Council, Larne St John Ambulance and Carnlough Rowing Club and taking into consideration the health and safety of everyone, it has been decided to postpone the event until further notice.

“Geoff would have been celebrating his 50th year on January 1st and it certainly is a big disappointment but as Geoff himself says the health and safety of everyone is of paramount importance.

“As Chairman of the Association can I thank everyone for their support over the years. Wish everyone a Very Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year. Bring on 2022,” Billy said on the Carnlough New Year Day Swimmers social media page.

On Tuesday afternoon the following update was posted on the Facebook page: ‘It has been mentioned by numerous members and participants that they would like to do something to mark our annual swim day.

‘There has been a few suggestions made. One of these has been an ice bucket challenge.

‘We have been in contact with chairman Billy & he thinks this is an excellent idea…

‘So the plans are as follows:

‘On New Year’s Day @ 12noon (our usual swim time) we will all complete the ice bucket challenge. You may have seen this trend a while ago to raise awareness for ALS. Ours will obviously be in aid of spina bifida and hydrocephalus. The plan is that:

1. All participants should fill a bucket of iced water (similar to the temperature of the harbour)

2. Video yourself

3. Say who you are and where your participating from

4. Pour the iced water over your head (as if you’ve been for a swim)

5. Post your video to our fb page to that we can see everyone completing the challenge.

‘This means that anyone who wants to participate can do so in the comfort of their garden following all social distancing guidlines and restrictions, whilst raising money for a very worthy charity.

‘If you could mail us how much you’ve raised and if you can either PayPal it to a members account so we can forward it to the charity on your behalf (the account is to be confirmed)

‘Or alternatively

‘If you collect cash and are happy for a member to meet you at a specified point we can collect all money raised.

‘Can you let us know if you are interested. We are hoping that this year can be just as successful as every year that has gone before it, and marking our 50th anniversary in a very unique way!

‘Feel free to share this post so we can try and get as many people as possible involved!

‘Hope to hear from you all soon,’ the message said.



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