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BBC Newsline's Maggie Swarbrig
"Irene is braver than most"
 real 28k

Saturday, 25 December, 1999, 13:41 GMT
85-year-old swimmer braves elements

Irene McCullough: Getting in is the most difficult part


An 85-year-old Belfast woman was planning to brave the chilly seas off Newcastle when most people would be turning over in their warm beds on Christmas morning.

But for former swimming teacher Irene McCullough, the daily dip at the County Down resort has been part of her routine for the past 15 years.

She and her friends have managed to raise 30,000 for the local lifeboat service with their annual Christmas Day swim.

When asked if she is mad to put herself through such physical hardship, Irene agrees heartily but admits to some misgivings.


Liz Nixon: Irene has helped raise 30,000 for lifeboats
"The hardest part is getting wet, getting down in the water," she said.

"I have to get down as quickly as possible."

Liz Nixon of the Newcastle Lifeboat Guild does not envy her friend's fortitude in the face of the chilly seas, but admires her efforts.

"She comes here every day - rain, wind or snow and she goes into the water.

"I wear three jumpers and it's really cold, never mind a swimsuit."

This Christmas Day, Irene and her hardy friends will be braving the elements once more.

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See also:
21 Dec 99 |  UK
Breaking the ice with the Christmas dippers
25 Dec 97 |  Sport
An icy plunge on Christmas Day

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