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 Wednesday, 25 December, 2002, 15:47 GMT
Swimmers enjoy 'warm' Christmas
Peter Tuffin of the Brighton Swimming Club prepares for the clubs annual Christmas Day dip in the sea off the East Sussex resort
Some of the onlookers lining the beach were tempted in
A comparatively balmy Christmas Day encouraged dozens of swimmers to plunge into the English Channel for a traditional dip.

About 60 swimmers aged 11 to 65 splashed into the waters to cheers from hundreds of spectators.

Members of Brighton Swimming Club, which has organised the annual event since its foundation in 1860, made up most of those taking part in the event next to the East Sussex city's main pier.

But some of the onlookers lining the beach were persuaded to join in the fun to make it a record turnout.

Club chairman John Ottaway said conditions were among the best he had seen, with sunny skies, a calm sea and a water temperature of 8.2C.

Fancy dress

And while some swimmers had managed just a quick dip, others had stayed in the sea for 15 minutes, he said.

A similar swim was staged in the Serpentine in London's Hyde Park.

And the 38th annual fancy dress swim in Porthcawl, near Bridgend, South Wales, was preceded by a parade from the harbour to Coney Beach with carol singers and Santa joining in the fun.

Ian Stroud, 55, of Porthcawl, who has taken part 15 times, said the sponsored event should raise more than 2,000 for good causes in the area, including Newton Primary School Parent Teachers' Association and Porthcawl Lifeguard Club.

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