Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Friday, 29 July 2005 13:57 UK

Bog snorkellers take the plunge

bog snorkler
Bog snorkelling event is taking place in County Tyrone

Taking the plunge in County Tyrone may never be the same again with the arrival of the aqua-sport - bog snorkelling.

Taking an activity normally associated with the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean and moving it to a large drain in Dungannon may not be to everyone's taste, but Colin Gates has been able to organise a championship event.

"It's what it says. You have to snorkel two lengths of a 35-yard drain in the fastest time wearing a snorkel and mask and using flippers for propulsion," he said.

The first Northern Ireland championships are taking place at Peatlands Park near the town on Sunday.

Competitors

Why someone would want to dive into a deep cold, very dirty, and slightly smelly bog drain is a moot point, even among the competitors.

Some competitors said they may need to find a different hobby, but one man said he had set a record for the sport, mainly because no-one else had been timed yet.

"It's cold, yes, when you get in, but it's good for your skin," said one female devotee of the sport.

The competition is now fully booked up, but spectators are welcome and the organisers say there are a host of attractions on dry land.

Bog snorkelling is popular in England and Wales and has even produced the associated sport of mountain bike bog snorkelling.

Llanwrtyd Wells, the smallest town in Wales, hosts the World Bog Snorkelling Championships.

In this event, competitors with mask, snorkel, and scuba fins swim along a 60-meter trench cut through a peat bog.

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