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Southwold Christmas Day Swim cancelled due to Covid-19

PUBLISHED: 10:38 17 November 2020 | UPDATED: 15:44 17 November 2020

The Southwold Christmas Day Swim regularly attracts hundreds of participants Picture: CATHY RYAN

The Southwold Christmas Day Swim regularly attracts hundreds of participants Picture: CATHY RYAN

Archant

The annual Southwold Christmas Day Swim for this year has been cancelled due to coronavirus - but organisers are encouraging would-be swimmers to take part in a virtual event at home.

Rotary Club secretary Cathy Ryan MBE said the challenge would be accessible Picture: SIMON PARKERRotary Club secretary Cathy Ryan MBE said the challenge would be accessible Picture: SIMON PARKER

Crowds of hundreds of people regularly gather on Christmas morning to take the plunge in an event that raises funds for the Rotary Club of Southwold and District.

Swimmers typically pay a small entry fee, with the cause raising more than £26,000 in the years since its inception.

But coronavirus restrictions have forced the organisers to scrap plans for this year’s event with the current lockdown preventing large social gatherings, even though it is meant to end on December 2.

In response, the Rotary Club is encouraging people to take part in a ‘virtual swim’ - where participants record themselves swimming in imaginative and creative situations.

Club secretary Cathy Ryan launched the scheme by recording a video of her swimming in a cattle trough.

She said: “Because we can’t do crowd control, we can’t be responsible for social distancing.

MORE: ‘Lovely’ goodwill gestures from children placed on town’s Christmas tree

“It’s one of our biggest fundraisers, so we didn’t want to lose it. The swim has been in Southwold for so many years.

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“As long as you’re semi-immersed in water, you can do it.”

Southwold residents have long held a tradition of swimming in the sea on Christmas morning, but the Rotary Club decided to take over the event in 2012 as a means of raising funds for vital causes.

It has been held every year and has gone from strength to strength, raising more than £5,000 in 2019.

With the Covid-19 pandemic cancelling many fundraising events planned for this year, club organisers were determined to not let the traditional festive celebration fall victim to the crisis.

The Rotary Club has pledged a small prize and medal for the person who raises the most money and whoever does the “most imaginative” swim.

Entries cost £5 and all proceeds will be donated to Teenage Cancer Trust, the chosen charity of club president Gillian Warren.

Ms Ryan said the scheme was partly inspired by the viral Ice Bucket Challenge and believes the accessibility means people the world over can get involved.

She added: “We’ve had to think do things in different ways - it’s been a challenge for us.

“This challenge means anyone can join in. I can email my friends all over the world.”

MORE: WATCH: Hundreds brave a chilly but sun-soaked Christmas Day dip in Felixstowe


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