MORE than 200 brave souls – and one curious seal – took part in the annual New Year’s Day swim at Rhu Marina.

Hardy swimmers – 207 of them, to be precise – from across Helensburgh and Lomond and beyond got their kit off and in some cases flung on their best fancy dress outfit to take a dip in the Gareloch on the first day of 2020.

Young and old dismissed the bitterly cold temperature as they took the plunge to knock off any Hogmanay cobwebs, earning hot refreshments back on shore along with a certificate emblazoned with the event’s motto – ‘Many are Cauld but Few are Frozen’.

Organised and supervised by RNLI volunteers, the event was a huge success judging by the warm feedback of everyone involved, although numbers were slightly down on last year’s 218 participants.

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A grand total of £1,300 was raised by the collection team – vital funds which will go towards supporting the RNLI’s life-saving work.

A spokesman for RNLI Helensburgh said: “We are, as always, immensely grateful to everyone who came along to the New Year swim either to take part or to provide support for the brave souls who did, and to those who gave so generously to the collection.

“Interestingly, a seal popped up in the course shortly before the start wondering who was making a fuss in its waters.

“Our thanks to Rhu Marina and to Fiona Howard and Christine Richardson for helping.

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“We would also like to thank the volunteers who help make the swim possible, the ladies who provide soup and other hot drinks for the swimmers, the team who organise the registrations and Donald Fullarton for providing the certificates. Together they make this annual event possible.”

The New Year’s Day swim in Rhu was not the only water-based fundraising event in Helensburgh and Lomond over the festive period.

Loch Lomond Water Ski Club’s annual charity display also took place on January 1 and helped raise a record-breaking total of around £2,000 for Alzheimer Scotland.

Meanwhile, recently formed charity Civil Rights First organised an inaugural Boxing Day dip at Luss to raise funds for their work helping people access justice.

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