Exmouth's Christmas Day Swim

PUBLISHED: 13:39 30 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:15 10 June 2010

Exmouth Christmas Day Swim.
Ref: P5997-01-09TI

Exmouth Christmas Day Swim. Ref: P5997-01-09TI

HUNDREDS of hardy swimmers braved freezing conditions to take the plunge for Exmouth's annual Christmas Day swim. Organiser Ken Cunningham said around 600 swimmers, watched by scores of onlookers, headed for the icy water this year.

HUNDREDS of hardy swimmers braved freezing conditions to take the plunge for Exmouth's annual Christmas Day swim.

Organiser Ken Cunningham said around 600 swimmers, watched by scores of onlookers, headed for the icy water this year.

Next year the swim, which began in the late '60s with just six swimmers, reaches a milestone birthday - and celebrates 40 years of taking place on Exmouth beach.

Cheers from the crowd egged on the hundreds of swimmers who raced down Exmouth beach - quickly being replaced by piercing screams as swimmers hit the icy water.

Hundreds of spectators packed the beach and clamoured for the best spot along the wall above to watch the scantily-clad swimmers plunge into the freezing sea.

Deterred by the cold, most swimmers - some in fancy dress - made a dash back for dry land and warm clothes within moments of hitting the water. Some merely waded ankle-deep into the sea while hardier souls made attempts to swim out to the Exmouth lifeboat and the Stuart Line pleasure cruiser.

Swim founder Ken Cunningham, of Littleham, who this year took the plunge with his daughter, Julia, said the 2008 swim was moved along the beach because of the tide and to save participants running across the cockle beds.

"It was a very nice day. When you think of all the trouble going on in the world and thousands of people turn up there's not one bit of hassle. It's lovely," he said.

Exmouth firefighter Nigel Snowshall, who has taken part every year since 1976, since the age of five, said: "It was cold but you get a lovely glow. It never ceases to amaze me how many people come down to watch and take part. There must have been thousands on the beach watching.


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