Christmas Day swim which attracts thousands of people cancelled due to pandemic
- Credit: Mick Howes
It is a popular festive tradition that regular attracts hundreds of Santas, Christmas elves and superheroes.
But organisers of the annual Lowestoft Christmas Day swim have taken the decision to cancel this year's spectacle amid the continuing coronavirus crisis.
Crowds of around 3,000 people turned out to cheer on the brave participants last year, as “the biggest turn out yet” of more than 400 registered swimmers took part in the 42nd festive plunge into the sea.
A spokesman for the Lowestoft Christmas Day Swim organisers said: "Unfortunately, the organising committee of the traditional and very popular Lowestoft Christmas Day Swim have made the decision to cancel the swim for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The decision was made, spearheaded by SLT Group, for a number of reasons including spread of the virus, socially distancing measures and safety of spectators, organisers and swimmers."
The festive dip is a spectacle that is much loved locally as it also raises much needed funds for local charities and causes.
Since the SLT Group took over the organisation of the swim, it has seen more than 1,500 registered swimmers - who have been hailed as ‘heroes’ - raising £60,000 that that has been shared amongst local beneficiaries.
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Matt Stebbings, Community Education Manager at SLT Group, said: “This will be the first year I have known the swim to be cancelled.
"Even when the swim was in jeopardy the community got together and saved it, however this time it is the correct decision to cancel this year’s swim.
"COVID-19 means that the swim's aim each year of being bigger and better will mean even more in 2021.
"Donations can still be made via the website www.sltrust.co.uk/donate and any donations will be put towards the 2021 swim beneficiaries.”
The organisers are discouraging anyone taking to Lowestoft beach during the festive period to undertake a cold-water dip without sufficient planning, preparation and safety.
For more information on cold-water dips, visit https://rnli.org/safety/know-the-risks/cold-water-shock.