A RECORD number of bathers, many in fancy dress, took part in the annual Boxing Day swim in Tenby on Boxing Day.
The traditional event, now in its 41st year, has snowballed into one of Wales’ festive highlights, attracting hundreds of bathers annually.
Even in the depths of last year’s chilling sub-zero winter, up to 350 bathers dashed across the town’s snow-strewn beaches to take the plunge.
But Monday’s much milder weather saw more than 650 swimmers take part, raising thousands of pounds for charity.
Tenby hotelier Chris Osborne, chairman of the Tenby Sea Swimming Association and one of the event’s organisers, said: “It was definitely a record entry this year. It’s not only the mild weather – it’s the fact the Boxing Day swim here has been getting more and more popular over the years. Last year the snow put people off travelling and it was rather cold.”
The fancy dress element are now dubbed “Tenby on TV” after their antics in the annual swim were featured in a television advert by Tesco which re-created traditional events across the UK for its Christmas advertising campaign.
Mr Osborne, who runs the Fourcroft Hotel in Tenby, said: “Tenby has never had such good television coverage in the space of a few months. As well as this advert, we’ve had Grand Designs, Ironman Wales, Don’t Tell the Bride and Mayday Mayday filmed here. The event not only attracts swimmers, it’s become part of Tenby tradition now to get out to the North Beach on Boxing Day and see what’s going on and meet your friends. As a result it provides a boost for the town centre and the filming of television programmes and movies in Pembrokeshire has given the place a big lift. I think all the publicity should mean a good year for Tenby in 2012.”
Charities which will benefit from this year’s swim include Pembrokeshire Cancer Support, Cruse Bereavement Care, Hafan Cymru and the Tinker’s Hill Bird of Prey and Swan Rescue Centre at nearby Amroth.
Mr Osborne said: “Thankfully the weather was fairly kind to us this year. It was drizzly at the start but generally it stayed dry for us and was one of the mildest Boxing Day swims we have ever had.”