PICTURE GALLERY: Santas, superheroes and sumos enjoy Lowestoft Christmas swim

While turkeys were sizzling in ovens across the East of England, hundreds of Lowestoft swimmers were celebrating their own Christmas tradition by donning fancy dress and charging into the North Sea.

Santas, superheroes and sumos braved the December waves for the 32nd annual swim off the Suffolk coast, and organisers hope to have raised more than �10,000 for 10 local charities in the process.

More than 220 swimmers registered for this year's Lowestoft Christmas Day swim, and more than 1,000 spectators lined the promenade to cheer them on.

Lawrence Chapman, who has braved the swim for the last 25 years, organised the event with his friend Mark Attenburrow.

'It works up a good appetite and people feel it's part of their Christmas celebrations now,' said Mr Chapman. 'I'm sure there are a lot harder ways to raise money for charity.'

He estimated the temperature was about seven degrees, with the sea the same temperature as the air, and that it was a relief after last year's frost and sub zero temperatures.

The swim took place beside Claremont Pier at 10am today as it was a high tide and there was very little beach to be seen in front of the Hatfield Hotel, where swimmers got changed.

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And participants were in good spirits.

Jamie Bedwell, 22 of Laxfield Way, Lowestoft, wore a giant nappy for the swim - and little else.

'We got 46 nappies for a fiver and we taped them together,' he said. 'Thankfully it's warmer than last year when it was minus four and just burning cold.

'It makes me appreciate my Christmas dinner more and I'd still be in bed if it weren't for this.'

It is the second year he has completed the swim, but his friend Andrew Kirby, 23 of Wentworth Way, Lowestoft has racked up four years of the swim.

'It's a bit of a buzz and it's a tradition now,' he said. 'It's as much a part of Christmas as the turkey.'

Others took a little more persuasion to dash into the freezing waves.

Lizzie Long, 35 of Worthing Road, Lowestoft, said: 'My friends wouldn't let me have my Christmas dinner if I didn't do this.

'It's my first time and I'm nervous.'

She dressed as a snowman for the swim, and her friend continued the festive theme in a reindeer superhero outfit.

Chris Ellis, 28 of Southampton, was staying with his parents in Field Grange, Lowestoft for Christmas.

'It's the first time I've done this and I'm pleased it's warmer than last year,' he said. 'We come down and watch every year so I thought I would take part this time round.'

A lifeboat watched on as the swimmers dashed along the beach into the sea, along with volunteer lifeguards and coastguard stood by on the shore.

But their help was not required - with only towels needed to shrug off the cold before people wearing fancy dress headed off to enjoy the rest of their Christmas Day.

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