“With early February bringing with it high winds and forecasts of snow, the idea of getting into open water wouldn’t cross the minds of the majority of people. Sea temperatures are at their coldest in February, averaging at 8.8°C, and lake water is normally a few temperatures colder.

However, one Westmeath footballer and dozens of others across the country are taking on the physical and psychological challenge of submerging themselves in open water, adding a minute to the clock for every day they take part, amounting to a total of six hours and 46 minutes across the month of February.

Speaking not too long after the eleventh day of the challenge, Athlone man Ray Connellan explains how he got involved with what is being called ‘Freezbrury’.

“I first heard about it two years ago and I was going to do it but I moved back over to Australia, and there wasn’t much point in doing it in the Australian summer. I saw that it was happening again last year through Damien Browne. He used to play for Connacht and he’s actually preparing to climb Everest at the moment. He was posting about it on his story and looking for new ways to push himself. I just said I’d give it a try, so myself and my brother John did it last year. It was tough but we got through it,” said Ray.”