Lowestoft: Christmas swim cancelled

The Lowestoft Christmas Swim has been cancelled.

The Lowestoft Christmas Swim has been cancelled. - Credit: Archant

After attracting thousands of swimmers to take a bracing festive dip over the past three decades, the organisers of the popular event announced this week that they had decided to call it a day.

The cancellation of the swim is the latest body-blow to the town, after the loss of the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival and the Lowestoft carnival parade and the closure of part of the South Pier to the public.

As well as being watched by huge crowds over the past 35 years, it is estimated to have raised more than £150,000 for local charities – benefiting schools, clubs, charities and voluntary organisations.

Mark Attenburrow and Lawrence Chapman have jointly been involved in organising the swim for several years.

But Mr Attenburrow said the pair had been forced to make the sad decision to cancel this year’s event, despite talks with other organisations about taking it on. He added: “With work commitments growing for both Lawrence and myself, we have decided to call it a day. We had hoped we could hand the swim over to a local organisation, but sadly that has not worked out. So 2012 was the last swim.”

Mr Attenburrow said the event had started with the aim of “let’s go for a swim on Christmas morning,” and this led to some sponsorship going to local charities, but it rapidly grew into a “much larger” annual event.

“It has become a bit of an institution over the past three decades and filled the beach on Christmas morning with swimmers and onlookers,” he said.

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“Although there is some debate as to who got it off the ground first, the two father figures of this event were Bruce Wayman and Joe Annis. Joe has never missed a swim yet.”

He added: “Lawrence Chapman and myself took over the organisation of the swim and, with the support of the lifeguards, lifeboat, parents and families, we have run the event for several years.

“The Christmas Day swim averaged 100 swimmers each year, with about 1,000 people coming down to watch.

“It also has had an excellent safety record... The aim has always been to raise money for local charities and over the 33 years I’ve been involved with the swim I estimate that we have raised in the region of £160,000.”

Mr Attenburrow and Mr Chapman both thanked the Hotel Hatfield, lifeguards, Lowestoft Lifeboat, the swimmers and “all those who have helped run and support the organisation” over the years.