Brave 70 take the Christmas plunge

While many people were enjoying a lie-in or an early Buck's Fizz, dozens of hardy swimmers plunged into icy waters for their annual Christmas morning swim.

Some 70 people took part in the Christmas Day race in the Serpentine in London's Hyde Park, watched by a crowd of hundreds who were more appropriately dressed for the cold conditions.

The Serpentine Swimming Club, which organises the 100-yard race, bans wetsuits, meaning anyone joining in can only wear a normal swimming costume or trunks.

Club secretary Brian Thomas took part in his first Christmas Day swim in 1967.

He said: "It's a lovely thing to do, first thing in the morning and in the middle of Hyde Park. It was beautiful. Last year we had torrential downpours but it was sunny and bright today. A lovely morning."

As the water temperature was around 5C, most participants did not hang around long after finishing the swim - with the quickest completing the course in around a minute.

The Peter Pan Cup was awarded to this year's winner, Kristy McIntyre, originally from Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, for coming first in the handicapped race. It was named in honour of the book's author JM Barrie, who used to sponsor the cup. The Christmas Day race was first held in 1864.

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