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Christmas morning swim in Porthcawl

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Every year Christmas is the same old story: families gather around the Christmas tree and lose themselves in a mountain of wrapping paper. Except at a small town in Wales where revellers adopt a rather different approach to Christmas altogether.


At Sandy Bay in Porthcawl in south Wales people who are feeling festive come together every year to take part in the annual Morning Christmas Swim. The event sees around 1,000 brave swimmers plunge into the icy cold waters as part of a tradition which dates all the way back to 1964.


What is now a major date in the Christmas calendar began as a joke between two friends who decided to dress up as Coco the Clown and Father Christmas and go for a swim on Christmas Day morning. The practical joke became an annual affair and one year the swimmers noticed that they had been joined by nearly 100 people.


Jack Bridge, who is one of the two original swimmers, says: "Never did we imagine that within a few years the number of swimmers would grow to over 100 and the spectators to the thousands."
Bridge has attempted to keep the event an exciting day trip, one year arriving by glider while his friend Arlon nervously looked on.


It costs participants absolutely nothing to take part, they can simply turn up on the day and register. After the swim there is a shelter where revellers can change and get warm and often participants share Christmas food and stick around to chatter about their experiences.


There is no set distance that swimmers must undertake and the event organisers say that most participants chose to stay within their chest depth and only swim a few strokes - it is, after all, very cold.


They advise those considering a Christmas swim: "It is entirely up to you how long you stay in or how much swimming you do. Just come along and enjoy the swim without getting too cold."


Swimmers should note that there is normally a carol singing service at high tide, with a brass band, as people wait for the arrival of Father Christmas.


Then at around 11am swimmers begin to register before jumping into the bay to brave the winter waves as their loved ones watch from the shore.


Many people do the swim as part of a charity effort and get friends, family and colleagues to sponsor their chilly dip - however, participants do not have to be raising money for charity to take part.

 

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