Daring swimmers brave the Solent’s icy waters in New Year’s Day dip

Alex Alley as Spongebob Squarepants Picture: Habibur Rahman (170002-20)

Alex Alley as Spongebob Squarepants Picture: Habibur Rahman (170002-20)

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Artists impression of the Solent Freedom Tunnel portal at Whippingham, IOW. 
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  • Big crowds cheer on brave swimmers at Gafirs’ New Year’s Day dip in Stokes Bay
  • More than 530 take part in the annual tradition
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A CHORUS of cheers and screams were heard as hundreds of brave swimmers went for a chilly dip to raise funds for charity.

A record 531 daring people stripped down to their trunks or got dressed up in colourful costumes to enter the Solent on New Year’s Day.

Picture: Habibur Rahman (170002-19)

Picture: Habibur Rahman (170002-19)

Hundreds of spectators lined the shoreline in Stokes Bay, Alverstoke for the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (Gafirs) swim.

There was a party atmosphere amongst the grey clouds and the icy waves as the brave participants headed out into the Solent.

The swimmers were not to be deterred with some having a brief dip while others went for a long swim amongst the waves.

Swimmers could raise funds for any charity they liked with a total of £2,858.30 raised on the day.

It seemed like a really fun idea to do and you got a real feeling of exhilaration and adrenaline from the crowds when you were walking up.

Jack Anderson, 13, from Gosport

Jack Anderson, 13, from Gosport, raised £170 for Macmillan Cancer Support and was supported by his family as he faced the icy waters alone.

The teenager ‘absolutely loved’ the experience and the crowd’s support.

He told The News: ‘It seemed like a really fun idea to do and you got a real feeling of exhilaration and adrenaline from the crowds when you were walking up.

‘It wasn’t too bad at first but as I got further in and the water got up to my shoulders I began to really freeze.

Swimmers make their way to the water Picture: Habibur Rahman (170002-13)

Swimmers make their way to the water Picture: Habibur Rahman (170002-13)

‘I absolutely loved it though and I would definitely do again, although, next time I’ll bring my family into the water with me!’

Simon Radford, also from Gosport, was determined to get into the water this year after ‘chickening out’ last year.

He said: ‘I thought to myself that I’ve just got to do it this year.

‘I previously chickened out right at the last minute so I really had to follow through this time.’

The warm-up before the dip Picture: Habibur Rahman (170002-28)

The warm-up before the dip Picture: Habibur Rahman (170002-28)

Simon, who braved the weather in just his swimming trunks added: ‘It was a brilliant atmosphere and that really cheered us on as we headed in.

‘I think it’s a really good idea, people are all doing it for fantastic causes and I feel really great after doing it.’

Gafirs chairman Keith Thomas said: ‘It was certainly a chilly dip for those swimmers who took the plunge, but the smiling faces on those taking part makes it all worthwhile.’

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