UK Politics

Boxing Day dippers brave chilly coastal waters for charity

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Boxing Day dips have attracted thousands of swimmers and spectators around the English coast.

Dippers have dashed into the chilly waters off beaches in Northumberland, Tyneside, Wearside and Dorset, among others.

Many were fundraising for charity dressed as Father Christmas, nuns, elves, Christmas puddings and turkeys.

Sea temperatures were estimated to be about 8.9C (48F) in the north and 11.1C (52F) in the south.

Conditions were "the roughest they have been for a number of years" at Tynemouth Longsands, with swim time limited to 10 minutes, according to participants.

Run by the North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards, the dip first took place in 1999.

Swim veteran Geoff Wade said it was a "great way to clear your head after the excesses of Christmas".

"It felt warmer to me but it was my wife's first time and she didn't think the same," he said.

RNLI Lifeboat operations manager Dave Cocks said the Redcar dip had had "as many spectators as we've ever seen".

The weather was "bright but cold" and there had been "lots of young and old doing the dip", he said.

Jade Thirlwall, who is a member of pop band Little Mix, returned to her home town of South Shields to raise funds for a local charity at the Little Haven beach dip.

"My great-aunty Norma, she passed away last year from pancreatic cancer so it means a lot to me to do what I can," she said.

Nearly 200 people dipped at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea on the Northumberland coast, with local lifeboat volunteers and coastguard teams providing safety cover.

Just as many spectators watched their efforts from the relative warmth of the beach and promenade.

Of the annual dips one of the largest, organised by Sunderland Lions Clubs, has been held since 1974.

It attracts up to 900 dippers and raises tens of thousands of pounds for charity.

A 70m (230ft) swim across Weymouth Harbour on Christmas Day attracted 483 swimmers – a record number for the event.

It was started this year by Don Laker, 93, whose father inaugurated the event in 1948 with a swimming bet against a friend.

Weymouth and Portland Lions Club took over running it the 1970s.

Original Article

BBC

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