Aine Lyons from Claregalway has been taking part in the COPE Galway Christmas Swim for 15 years and her favourite thing about the event is the sense of community and how everyone gets together for a great cause. Aine tells us about the first year when she took part, “I was 16 when I heard about the event through friends, and I’ve since dragged my sister into the tradition, my brother did it once with me but he wasn’t brave enough to bear the cold every year! I love that the swim has become a tradition for me and my family now too.
Diarmuid Lynch, Roscam native, took the 2020 COPE Galway Christmas Swim and made it his own by starting off with a half-marathon from Rinville to Salthill. When he reached Salthill, it was straight in for a swim from Blackrock Tower. As an added incentive for his online fundraisers, Diarmuid even shaved off his trademark beard! He said, “It had been a tough year for us all, but I’m hoping to raise money and awareness for the people who need it.” The half-marathon, swim, and fundraiser were a celebration of sorts of the more than five stone he lost since doing the Christmas swim in 2019. Diarmuid spent much of his twenties living in Canada, but Christmas visits home to Galway always included a Christmas Day visit to Blackrock. Diarmuid raised over €1,800 on Facebook. “I was hearing from friends and family in Vancouver, my family here, people all over the world. Every tiny bit people gave all helped and added to it, and it was fantastic the way people reached out, even people I wouldn’t have talked to in years… The beard was a last final push to try and get over the mark, and also kind of a symbolic kind of rebirth just for myself.” Diarmuid continues to say, “It’s that sense of community and that’s one thing Galway has always had going for it, that closeness and charm. It’s a city but it’s still held on to its love for everyone in the city, the Galwegians themselves.”