Porthcawl Christmas Swim celebrates 50th anniversary and hopes for biggest …

It’s the ever-popular event that manages to tear hundreds of daredevils away from the wrapping paper and feast preparations to take a dip in the icy cold water on one of the biggest days of the year.

And organisers are hoping to encourage a record number of swimmers to join in for their milestone 50th annual Porthcawl Christmas Day Swim.

The festive event has become one the biggest in the UK, and at least 1,000 people are expected to register for the family-friendly fundraiser, which will see Ty Hafan, Sandville Self Help and other local charities benefit from the money raised.

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Many of those taking part this year will swap Santa suits for clown or viking get-up in memory of former members of the swim.

Arlon Owens, one of the founders of the swim, would dress as Coco the Clown on Christmas Day to push Father Christmas off the pier and into the sea. He wore a clown costume at each Christmas Swim.

For several years, Dai ‘Viking’ Thomas played Father Christmas, and his large, white beard not only made him perfect for the role, but also gave him the viking-like appearance for which he became known.

Spokesman Ian Stroud said: “We are already aware that friends of the swim are travelling home for Christmas.

“Several are travelling from as far away as New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. They will be joined by the many people who travel from all over South Wales and from across the bridge to enjoy a festive morning at Sandy Bay, Porthcawl.

“The arrangements on the morning will follow last year’s changes in that as swimmers register they will receive their commemorative mug before the Swim. Therefore, whether they have registered online or on the morning they must come to the registration desk from 10.30am onwards.

“Swimmers will leave the Hi Tide Inn and gather at the top of the beach for the start at 11.45am. The organisers are planning to have a start arch erected on the beach so that every swimmer will file through in a similar way to other large events.

“Porthcawl Coastguard will signal the start and veteran swimmers Vic Davies and Chris Hughes, both from Porthcawl and the only two swimmers that have taken part in all of the previous swims, will lead the swimmers down the beach through the spectators.”

The swim’s committee work tirelessly in the months running up to the swim, raising enough to fund the cost of the swim, the souvenir programmes and the swim mugs.

Those not taking part are reminded that they can still show their support for the event and the chosen causes, by turning up to spectate and giving generously to bucket collections and sponsor-seeking swimmers.

Volunteer marshals are also required.

Chairman Nicola Willis added: ‘This year, the Swim committee have chosen to donate money collected at the swim and via swimmers sponsorship to Ty Hafan, who help children with life limiting illnesses and Sandville Self Help Group who support people with serious illnesses and their families.

“We are asking swimmers to support our chosen worthy causes either by getting sponsorship or giving generously to our bucket collection on the morning.

“Our promise is to give every penny that is collected on Christmas morning via the bucket collection and through swimmer’s sponsorship to our chosen beneficiaries.

“Our sponsorship forms are available from our website – www.christmasswim.org – or at the Town Council Offices, Jane’s Cards John Street and Porthcawl Library.

“We are determined to build on the success of the event and don’t forget this will be your opportunity to say ‘I was at the 50th anniversary of Porthcawl Christmas Morning Swim!’”

Article source: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/porthcawl-christmas-swim-celebrates-50th-8253150