Records broken at Sidmouth's Boxing Day swim

PUBLISHED: 13:20 02 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:06 17 June 2010

NEARLY twice the number of swimmers took part in Sidmouth s 2008 Boxing Day swim, watched by the biggest crowd ever.

NEARLY twice the number of swimmers took part in Sidmouth's 2008 Boxing Day swim, watched by the biggest crowd ever.

With 262 swimmers registered, and many not, organisers estimate some 300 dashed into the icy waves on Friday.

The oldest swimmer was Robin Perryman, aged 65, and the youngest was Esme Gibbons, aged six.

For the past 20 years the swim has started at 11am, but there were a few late starters, including a last-minute dash for the sea by Mike Welch from Temple Street.

Hot mulled wine was available to swimmers after they came out of the water, provided by John Govier and served by RNLI committee members, as well as hot showers at the Sailing Club.

Fancy dress winners, in no particular order were 7 Swans-a-Swimming by staff and friends at the Swan Inn; Tarzan and Jane by Trevor Fudge and Linda Ambrose from the Anchor Inn; Elves and Parcels by the Jenkin family and partners.

The Lee girls were Salt and Pepper Pots and the mystery Wizard of Oz also won a prize.

Keith Knight who acted as MC, said: "It was brilliant, an absolutely cracking day weather wise, with wall to wall sunshine."

He said thousands lined the seafront from Port Royal to the Bedford Hotel, many encouraged out to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.

"There were so many people on the seafront that some seemed unwilling to make room for the swimmers to get through from the road and the swim started at about five or 10 past 11am.

"There were still people going into the water when most were coming out.

Members of Sidmouth branch of the RNLI collected around £2,200 on the day and, said Mr Knight, thanks go to Sidmouth Lifeboat and St John Ambulance for providing safety cover on and off the water.

Mr Knight with Oliver Salter; both from Sidmouth Regatta committee, has been involved in running the swim since the late 80s.

He was surprised how numbers had grown, despite the event not being advertised.

"It is just pure tradition yet numbers get bigger every year, it is just amazing," he said.

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