Arcadia Bathers ‘a hardy breed’

Some of the swimmers pictured before their dip into the sea at the Arcadia Portrush on Sunday morning. INCR11-374PL
Some of the swimmers pictured before their dip into the sea at the Arcadia Portrush on Sunday morning. INCR11-374PL
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The saying, ‘a hardy breed’ can certainly describe a group of swimmers who meet up every Sunday morning for a dip in the Atlantic Ocean WITHOUT wet suits!

The brave men and women of the Arcadia Bathing Club have two rules - no wetsuits, and you must swim at least one Sunday every month of the year.

John Simpson and his children Zoe and Scott pictured at the Arcadia Portrush on Sunday morning. INCR11-375PL

John Simpson and his children Zoe and Scott pictured at the Arcadia Portrush on Sunday morning. INCR11-375PL

Former rugby player Stephen McConnell, who is one of the founder members of the Club, told The Times this week how the club was formed.

“When I stopped playing rugby I used to swim in the sea quite regularly.

“Two of my pals Alan and John Simpson used to join me, and it became a regular thing for the three for us.

“Other friends joined in, so we set up the Club, and now we have people travelling from as far away as Belfast to have a dip on a Sunday morning followed by a coffee. The Arcadia beach is well known historically for swimming, so that’s why we picked this location.”

With water temperatures at this time of the year a chilling five degrees, Stephen says that it can be a challenge to get in.

“It’s a challenge to get into the water, especially during the colder months, but most people find when they get in they enjoy it. It certainly gets the heart going, and you feel great once you get out. The water temperature rises to about 14 in the summer, but that’s hardly tropical,” he joked.

“It’s become a great social thing, meeting up for a swim and a catch up.”

The Club were behind the recent ‘Santa Splash’ at East Strand for Marie Curie, a charity that supported Stephen’s mother after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Stephen says: “We are hoping to do some fund raising to have defibrillators at both East and West Strand in Portrush, so we will be organising events in the coming months for this.”

The Club meet every Sunday at 10.30, for more information search ‘Arcadia Bathing Club’ on Facebook.