Wednesday, December 18, 2013
IT may have humble beginnings, but Exmouth’s annual Christmas Day swim has grown to become one of the town’s largest events.
It’s also gaining wider exposure, thanks to recent TV and national newspaper coverage.
The event began in the late 1960s when local resident Ken Cunningham and friends dived into the sea at Exmouth.
Nearly 50 years later, hundreds now take up the challenge annually, many raising funds for charity.
Spectators gather at the Octagon from 10.30am.
Competitors come in all shapes and sizes, wearing fancy dress. Anything goes, from Viking outfits to Santas, sailors and snowmen.
At 11am there’s a countdown and the hardy – and extremely foolhardy – charge down the beach and plunge into the freezing waves.
Some bravely strike out into the estuary, round some buoys, and head back to shore.
Some don’t make it that far. Due to sheer numbers of entrants, a splash and dash is the best they can achieve.
Incredibly for some hearty souls it’s their second dip of the day. It’s possible to brave the waves at Budleigh Salterton at 10am at the Steamer Steps, and then nip over to Exmouth for the bigger event.
Exmouth’s other large festive gathering is the New Year fireworks.
Switched this year from the seafront to the Strand Gardens due to health and safety issues, it begins around 6pm when Exmouth’s pubs welcome revellers in fancy-dress.
With more entertainment likely in town this year, it’s going to get busy, especially around the Strand.
Fireworks – provided by Exmouth Town Council – will light up the skies at midnight.