Christmas Day is a time for families to gather and share presents and seasonal greetings.

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But in Lowestoft Christmas Day traditionally means super heroes, giant fruit, enormous penguins and scantily clad men and women jumping into the North Sea - all for the name of charity.

The 36th annual Lowestoft Christmas Day Swim saw about 150 foolhardy people plunge into the icy sea by Claremont Pier.

More than 1,000 people gathered on the seafront to watch the bizarre and colourful collection of swimmers take a dip at 10am and raise thousands of pounds for charity in the process.

Among the eye-catching fancy dress swimmers were bananas, giant penguins, nuns, a Christmas pudding, Mr T, Aquaman, Batman’s henchman Robin and doctors and nurses in operation gear.

A group of five Lowestoft friends, Calvin Sherwood, Joe Pybus, Chris Healey, Joe Meikle and Ollie Bailey, dressed as the 118 runners and Morph or wore just a mankini or trunks as they dashed into the sea,

The group, who are aged 20 and 19, hope to raise up to £700 for charity in memory of their friend Sam Jaggard, from Carlton Colville and who died aged 18 in a car crash in July 2012.

Mr Sherwood said: “It was so cold I went numb all over. That is the coldest I have ever been.”

Stan Cole, 56 and his two sons, Sam, 23 and Tom, 21, carried on their long-standing family tradition of taking part in the swim and this year they had all dressed up as nuns.

It was Sam’s 17th swim and he said: “It was not as cold as it has been. The sun is out and it is a lovely day and we all enjoyed ourselves.”

Another team taking part was the Bugstompers Scenario Paintball Team which saw one member Gary Randlesome, 25, dress up in an highly appropriate costume for the day - Aquaman.

There had been fears that this year’s Lowestoft Christmas Day Swim would not take place as it had been cancelled in November when its long standing organisers, Mark Attenburrow and Lawrence Chapman, said they would not be organising it because of mounting work and family commitments.

However the swim was saved after the Sentinel Leisure Trust, which runs Leisure services in Waveney on behalf of the district council, agreed to take over running it for the benefit of good causes in the area.

Joe Annis, a director at Sentinel Leisure Trust and who has taken part in all 36 swims as well as playing a role in setting up the first event, was pleased to see so many people turn out to support the festive dip,

He said; “It was an absolutely perfect day. We had about 150 swimmers and there was a big crowd to see them.

“Lowestoft has lost its air show and carnival and people felt it should not lose its swim as well. I am glad the Sentinel Leisure Trust came up with a rescue package at no cost to the event.”

Mr Annis wanted to thank the Hotel Hatfield for its support and the RNLI, lifeguards and coastguards for being on hand to make sure the event ran smoothly.

The previous 35 swims have raised more than £150,000 for good causes, including local schools, clubs charities and voluntary organisations.




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