Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Christmas sea swim halted by storm

Members of the public head into the freezing sea for the annual Brighton Swimming Club Christmas Day swim

Swimmers hoping to take part in a traditional Christmas Day dip in the sea will have to wait until next year following a decision to close the beach.

Brighton and Hove City Council will close the part of the beach where the swim takes place because of the severe weather conditions.

Last year council officials closed the beach because of "extremely dangerous" conditions which saw winds of up to 30mph, a high tide and a heavy sea swell forecast.

The swim, organised by Brighton Swimming Club every year since 1860, usually takes place near the Palace Pier at 11am and attracts scores of participants.

A council spokeswoman said: "The weather forecast for the Christmas period at the moment is for high winds and dangerous conditions for both novice and experienced swimmers."

The sea temperature is also about 5C at this time of year and can be even colder, meaning those who go swimming risk hypothermia, she said.

A seafront team will be on the beach from 8.30am on Christmas Day to put up signage, inform the public of the temporary closure and give advice regarding the conditions, the council said.

The spokeswoman said: "Sea swimming takes skill, stamina and knowledge of the physical dangers.

"Even on a calm day sea currents, undertow or a sudden change in weather can create life-threatening hazards without warning."

Fiona Southwell, secretary of the sea swimming section of Brighton Swimming Club, said she would be making a decision tomorrow as to whether its members would swim.

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