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Swimmers brave conditions

PUBLISHED: 09:05 29 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:06 05 July 2010

THE biting wind whipping up waves at the most easterly point of England cut through even the thickest coats worn by shivering spectators.

All the more remarkable then that swimmers lining up on Lowestoft beach for the 31st Christmas Day dip included women in bikinis and men in swim shorts.

THE biting wind whipping up waves at the most easterly point of England cut through even the thickest coats worn by shivering spectators.

All the more remarkable then that swimmers lining up on Lowestoft beach for the 31st Christmas Day dip included women in bikinis and men in swim shorts. And as if to underline their bravery, many had nonchalantly stripped down up to 15 minutes before the start.

To the estimated 2,000 spectators gazing down from the promenade, it must have looked a sight more suited to a winter sun resort such as Dubai - and amazingly that is exactly where one of the swimmers, joining the fancy dress throng with his Arab head dress and camel costume, came from.

David Zydzienowski, 56, who has lived and worked in Dubai for the past 12 years, said: “My wife Sandra comes from Lowestoft and my father-in-law Roy Herriven is a former lifeguard on the beach here.

“It is the second time I have done the swim and I will be raising £380 for charity - although my wife thinks I might have a heart attack.”

For sisters Nicola, 25, and Jane Savage, 34, the swim has become a yearly ritual when they come home to their parents in Lowestoft for Christmas.

Dressed as bees last year, they bravely entered the water in swimming costumes this year - their fifth dip - aiming to raise £250.

Best friends Michelle Whittingstall, 37, and 42-year-old Sally Quinn - dressed as clowns - came prepared for the weather with warming brandy.

After a loud countdown and warm-up run along the beach, the colourful crowd of swimmers, including many Santa-lookalikes, charged into the North Sea under the watchful eyes of lifeguards and the Lowestoft lifeboat crew.

One disappointed spectator was swim veteran Billy Hansford, 79, of Oulton Broad, who was banned from taking part by his doctor after three eye operations.

One of the organisers, Lawrence Chapman, deputy head at the town's Ashley Special School, said he was heartened to see at least 200 swimmers despite the wind chill.

Mr Chapman, who has swum the event for the past 20 years, said: “This year we are raising money for 14 charities that support disabled and disadvantaged people in Lowestoft and Waveney. Last year we raised £10,000 and are hoping to raise £8,000 to £10,000 this time.”

Along the Suffolk coast, the traditional Southwold Christmas Day swim was cancelled several weeks ago because of health and safety issues.

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