South East Wales

Porthcawl's Christmas Day swim marks 50th event

Christmas swim Image copyright Owen Richards
Image caption Chris Hughes (second left) and Vic Davies (centre) have both taken part in every Christmas Day swim that has taken place in Porthcawl

A half-century of brave (or foolhardy?) folks dashing into the cold sea on Christmas morning is being celebrated on the beach in Porthcawl, south Wales.

For the 50th swim, organisers hope to attract a record crowd after more than 1,000 people took part last year.

Swimmers gather at the town's Sandy Bay from 10:30 GMT, with the run down to the waves starting at 11:45 GMT.

The event is raising money for a hospice and a cancer support centre as well as other local projects.

More than 2,000 spectators came to watch last year, with many of the onlookers donning fancy dress.

This year, swimmers have been asked to follow the theme of clowns and Vikings in memory of two of the event's mainstays for many years.

'No wetsuits'

Image copyright Owen Richards
Image caption Fancy dress is encouraged, but wetsuits are not - apparently it's cheating...

Arlon Owens, who swam in the sea every day, came up with the idea for the annual swim along with fellow Porthcawl man Jack Bridge, as a way to promote the town.

His grandson Owen Richards, now a committee member himself, said the original event was more of a spectacle than a swim and used to take place at the town's pier, with Mr Owens dressed as Coco the Clown pushing Mr Bridge as Father Christmas off the pier and into the sea.

In later years, the man in the Santa suit was Dai Thomas, whose large white beard gave him a Viking-like appearance despite the red costume.

However, once the numbers started to grow and more people took to the water, the event was moved to Coney Beach.

Swimmers now gather at Hi-Tide inn just above the beach to register on the day before the arrival of Santa and the main event.

Image copyright Amie Lipley
Image caption Once the signal is given, a mad charge for the water begins
Image copyright Amie Lipley
Image caption The swim has attracted greater numbers over the years, with a record-breaking 1,044 in 2013
Image copyright Owen Richards
Image caption Swimmers are encouraged to raise money for the event's nominated charities
Image copyright Owen Richards
Image caption After the swim, cold participants are rewarded with a drink and a commemorative mug

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