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Christmas Day swimmers prepare to take the plunge into icy water

video&text&photos from the PA press,
While most of the country was snuggling under a duvet or pulling on a Christmas jumper, these hardened swimmers were squeezing into their costumes.

Hundreds of hardened bathers have been braving wet and wintry conditions across the country to take a Christmas Day dip.

Despite torrential rain, winds of up to 30mph and temperatures as low as seven degrees - determined swimmers took the plunge at traditional swims in locations around Britain.

Around a 100 people from the Serpentine swimming club jumped into the lake at Hyde Park for the annual 100-yard dash which has been held every year since 1864.

And a group of determined swimmers took their annual Christmas dip at Brighton beach this morning - despite orders from the council not to enter the water because of dangerous weather conditions.

Brighton and Hove City Council had announced yesterday that the traditional Christmas Day swim - which dates back to 1860 - could not go ahead with winds of up to 30mph predicted and 'volatile sea conditions'.

But these pictures reveal how a handful of hardy individuals got up at 7.30am to defy the ban and dive into water temperatures of only five degrees.

Council officials had said they were planning to be on the beach warning off swimmers from 8.30am ahead of the traditional start time of 11am.

Seafront manager Viki Miller said yesterday: 'It can be tempting to have a splash in the sea at Christmas, but it’s absolutely not worth putting yourself at risk. Not only could you be caught out by the strong currents, but the sea temperature is extremely cold this time of year.

'We will be monitoring the weather on the day and will be advising people about safety. The conditions are already hazardous, with the forecast set to get worse, so as a last resort we will be closing the beach tomorrow.

'We want people to be able to enjoy the beach, but safety is a top priority.'

Brighton and Hove Swimming Club has organised the event every year since 1860.

President of Brighton Swimming Club Margaret Tuppen said: 'We are quite happy with the responsible decision the council has made - safety comes first.'

But it seems several swimmers weren't to be told that this year was any different and took a dip nonetheless.

Swimmers in Exmouth were blessed with clear and sunny skies where temperatures soared to as high as nine degrees.

Athlete Iwan Thomas joined thousands in fancy dress including Santas, angels and even someone in Borat-style mankini as they dived into the cold water.

Local reverend Benedict Cambridge left his church service halfway through to join in.

He said: 'I've only been here for nine months and it seemed important to take part. The weather was mild but the sea was freezing. It gave me an ice cream headache.'

One of the 12 angels, Jessica Collinson, 19, said she had quickly nipped in and out because it was so cold but that others were in for much longer.

Jessica, of Exmouth, said: 'There were blokes in Speedos who spent a while swimming - very brave. Every year my friends, family, and I take part in the swim. It brings the whole town together and everyone says merry Christmas.

'There were a few more people than usual watching because of Iwan. He went in with the beach rescue team.'

The Exmouth Christmas day swim started in the late 1960s with just six swimmers when local Ken Cunningham took a dip with pals Peter Horne, Stan Jordan, Nick Hockings, David Hart and Miss Ireland.

In Lowestoft, the fancy dress was even more adventurous as swimmers plunged into the icy cold North Sea.

The annual Christmas Day dip raises money for local charities.

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Added: Dec-25-2012 Occurred On: Dec-25-2012
By: Aleksei Durakov
Tags: Christmas Day, swimmers, icy water
Location: United Kingdom (UK/GB) (load item map)
Views: 2193 | Comments: 9 | Votes: 2 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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