International Women's Day: Portobello Beach filled with women braving icy waters for charity swim

Roughly 700 women braved the icy waters of Portobello Beach to take part in an organised swim for International Women’s Day on Tuesday.

So far, the International Women’s Day Swimrise has raised over £5,000 for three local charities – Women’s Aid Edinburgh, Rape Crisis Scotland and Held In Our Hearts.

Anna Deacon, author of wild swimming book Taking The Plunge, among others, helped organised the event.

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She said: "It was really emotional. There was a feeling of community and solidarity, and just so much happiness.

"I think we all needed something joyful, and a feeling of hope.

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“At the moment, with everything that's going on, it was amazing to be able to raise money for other women and to all be together.”

A minute’s silence was held before the swimming begun. Those in attendance were asked to take the time to think about women affected by violence – particularly those suffering due to the situation in Ukraine.

Several hundred swimmers took a sunrise dip in the North Sea at Portobello Beach, for the International Women's Day Swimrise. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

They were also encouraged to remember Alice Byrne, a missing 28-year-old woman who was last seen entering the water on Portobello Beach on New Year’s Day.

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All of the charities benefiting from the swim were chosen with care – but one is particularly close to the hearts of those organising the event.

One of the original organisers of the swims, Danielle, lost her son Ezra in November 2021.

He was unfortunately born too early at 23 weeks, and Danielle now receives support and counselling from Held In Our Hearts, a baby-loss charity based in Edinburgh.

Women from all backgrounds, abilities and ages came together in aid of Edinburgh Women's Aid, Edinburgh Rape Crisis and Held in Our Hearts. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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The first official Swimrise took place in 2020, shortly before the first UK-wide lockdown.

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Two women hugged to try to stay warm in the freezing cold water. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)