Doubt cast over Boxing Day swim

PUBLISHED: 17:04 15 December 2014

Sidmouth Boxing Day swimmers in 2013. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 8548-52-13SH. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk

Sidmouth Boxing Day swimmers in 2013. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 8548-52-13SH. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk

Archant

Organisers of Sidmouth’s traditional Boxing Day swim have warned that the popular event may not take place this year.

Shingle has been washed away from the beach near to the York steps exposing the protective rocks below.  Ref shs 0042-50-14. Picture: Simon Horn.Shingle has been washed away from the beach near to the York steps exposing the protective rocks below. Ref shs 0042-50-14. Picture: Simon Horn.

A lack of shingle on the beach, combined with high tides immediately before the swim, has prompted fears there will not be enough space to safely accommodate the scores of swimmers and spectators that are predicted to attend.

Keith Knight, one of organisers, told the Herald this week he was giving an early warning to would-be swimmers so they consider other plans for their post-Christmas day off.

He said: “Unless more shingle comes back to the Port Royal area, the event may have to be cancelled this year. Safety is paramount.”

The swim, which is believed to have only been cancelled once in the last 20 years, has become increasingly popular since it began in 1985, with last year’s dip attracting hundreds of festively-clad swimmers.

But recent tides have washed away much of the shingle near The Esplanade - exposing the protective rocks underneath.

And although swim organisers will not know the exact state of the beach until a few days before Christmas, they have asked that any potential participants respect their decision if the event is cancelled.

Keith added: “Consideration has been given to moving the event across to the Clifton beach but, given the distance cold and wet swimmers would have to walk back to the sailing club for warm showers, it has been discounted.

“Remember, the event is weather permitting and the organisers’ decision is final.

“They ask that all entrants be sensible and respect any decisions made.”

The tradition gives residents a chance to shake off the excess of food and drink from Christmas Day and also serves as a fundraiser for the Sidmouth branch of the RNLI.

If the event goes ahead, all entrants will be required to sign in and gather in front of Sidmouth Sailing Club from 10.30am to show off their fancy dress.

The swim is scheduled to start at around 11am, with Sidmouth Lifeboat on hand to keep an eye on participants in the water.

It was feared last year’s swim could have been cancelled due to wild weather, but it ended up going ahead.

Updates on the fate of the event will appear in the Herald and at www.sidmouthherald.co.uk.


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