England

Boxing Day dippers brave chilly coastal waters for charity

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Media captionHundreds of people raced into the North Sea off the Norfolk coast

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.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some people braved the sea dressed as Redcar’s famous Lemon Tops
Image copyright Dave Cocks
Image caption Costumes ranged from simple swimming costumes, wetsuits and sports gear to something more... complicated

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.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Tynemouth dip had a time limit, just in case anyone needed it
Image copyright Fiona Haslett
Image caption Some brave Tynemouth dippers didn't even need fancy dress costumes to keep warm

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.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption People might run into the water but it's slower work getting out again

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.

Image caption Little Mix singer Jade Thirlwall was raising money for local charity Cancer Connections

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.

Image copyright Richard Martin
Image caption Speed seemed to be the trick at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea

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.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption And there is always a man in a dress... always
Image copyright Dave Cocks
Image caption Thousands of pounds is raised for charity by dippers

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.

Image copyright Dorsetbays Photography
Image caption The hardy souls of Dorset braved Weymouth Harbour on Christmas Day

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