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Hardy swimmers brave the New Year's Day cold for annual Hatherleigh Walrus Dip

By e_glanfield  |  Posted: January 07, 2014

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AROUND 20 hardy swimmers braved the wet and windy weather to take part in the annual New Year’s Day dip in Woolacombe.

People of all ages, from seven to 76, ran into the choppy sea just after 11am, many only wearing trunks and boardshorts, for the traditional swim.

Don Duffield, organiser of the event on behalf of Woolacombe Surf Lifesaving Club, said the weather had dampened the turnout.

He said: “It is a smaller turnout due to the weather. It’s the wettest it’s ever been in the 14 years I’ve been organising it.

“In fact, it’s the only time it’s rained on the day; we’ve had hail before but not rain.”

He also said he had been in the water at Woolacombe for the last few days to prepare for the dip.

He said: “I wanted to build up to it and also it meant I got to go in on the last day of 2013.”

Rhona Screech, 28, from Yelland, took part in the swim for the first time.

She said: “A friend from work roped me in. I was a bit nervous before but it’s exciting.”

Carl Troth, 36, from Woolacombe, has taken part for the last few years.

He said: “It’s a good start to the new year. Everyone’s extremely brave – and maybe a bit loose in the head.”

Among the youngest of the swimmers were nine-year-old Mia Roome-Goodwinn, from Braunton, and 10-year-old Shae Miles, from Woolacombe.

The oldest swimmer was 76-year-old Jeff Moston.

After the swim, Mr Duffield described the water as “beautiful”.

He said: “The water is warmer than the air. It’s really good that everyone turned out and it’s another challenge achieved.”

Richard James, 46, from Barnstaple, said it was his first time at the annual event but said he hadn’t plucked up the courage to join the swimmers.

He said: “It’s great to see everyone getting involved and dusting off the cobwebs with a morning swim but it’s just a little bit too cold out there for me to join them. It’s a great atmosphere and everyone seems in good spirits.”

The swimmers frolicked in the water and large waves for a few minutes before heading back to shore to dry off and warm up.

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