Wednesday, December 26, 2012
A record number of swimmers have braved the cold to take part in this year’s Boxing Day dip in Cromer.
At least 150 people took part in the challenge wearing fancy dress or tiny swimming costumes - neither of which offered any protection against the frigid North Sea.
Crowds gathered on the promenade to watch the spectacle, which was organised by North Norfolk Beach Runners in aid of the Benjamin Foundation.
Noel Spruce, president of the North Norfolk Beach Runners, said: “I think it is a record turn-out this year. We have got 30 to 40 beach runners taking part and 150 overall,
“The swimmers are getting more and more enthusiastic. This is the first time I have ever seen them going in to the water three times. They must be mad.”
He said the charity bucket collection had not been counted yet but last year the event raised £2,000 in 45 minutes.
The event got under-way with a run along the beach before the swim at 11am. Swimmers lined-up shivering on the damp sand and Mr Spruce led a countdown before everyone ran screaming and laughing in to the sea.
The sea temperature was a teeth chattering 5C but there was only a mild breeze and sun was out for the occasion.
Following the swim, participants huddled in groups on the beach, changing awkwardly beneath towels and sipping hot drinks from flasks.
Alex Chastney, eight, from Briston, took part in the swim for the second time. She warmed-up on the beach with mum Karen while dad Patrick went back in the sea for a another go. She said: “It was cold but it was fun. I really enjoyed it.”
Firefighters from Cromer parked their fire engine on the promenade and ran in to the sea wearing full uniform. The five brave crew members, who were wearing old kit, raised £1,000 for the Firefighers’ Benevolent Fund.
Firefighter Ricky Wright said: “We all went in under the water. The kit was very heavy and a lot heavier than I thought it would be. We must be mad. But I will do it again next year.”
The North Norfolk Crawlers, who swam the English Channel in 2010 and hope to swim around the island of Jersey in 2013, all took a dip on Boxing Day.
The team included Paul and Isobel Robson from Trunch, Sue Ventham from Antingham and Sharon Atkinson from Dereham. Mr Robson said: “We do this every year. We swim at Mundesley in the sea and sometimes in Cromer because we need to train in the cold water.”
Colin Hynson travelled from Norwich to take part wearing a dress, a pink wig and a string pearls, in aid of Norwich Food Bank while Geoff Spencer, from Southrepps, ran in to the sea dressed as children’s character ‘Where’s Wally’ to show support for the North Norfolk Beach Runners’ bucket collection and encourage people to donate.
Paul Wooster, from Banningham, also took part in the swim and raised £500 for Rapid UK, which sends volunteer search and rescue workers to disasters across the world.
Ben Kewell, who owns Cedar House Surf Shop, was offering free hot chocolate to swimmers. Mr Kewell, who also took part in the swim, said: “It is great that so many people turn out for it. It is a fantastic way to get everybody together on Boxing Day.”