SWIMMING in the sea in the middle of winter is rarely something that people would relish.
But when it is an annual fundraising event taken up by hundreds of people, it becomes a slightly more attractive idea.
On January 1, people will be gathering in Stokes Bay, Gosport, for the annual Solent swim in support of the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (Gafirs).
The New Year’s Day swim will be taking place a midday, with massive crowds expected at the event.
This time, the independent lifeboat station is also offering a special trophy to the swimmer – or swimming team – that manages to raise the most amount of money for Gafirs.
To be in with a chance of winning the gong, swimmers need to register for the event at gafirs.org.uk and raise money via the charity’s JustGiving page.
Fundraising officer James Baggott said: ‘Every year hundreds of people line Stokes Bay to watch the swimmers take a rather bracing dip in The Solent. Many of them raise money for charity and we’d like to honour those that raise money for us.
‘As an independent lifeboat station we do not receive any funding from the RNLI, so events like our New Year’s Day swim are vital in keeping us afloat all year to save lives in the local waters.
‘This time we’ll be keeping an eye on the JustGiving fundraising website and will hand over the trophy to the swimmer who raises us the most money.’
Registration opens at 11am on the day with swimmers entering the water at midday.
Refreshments and a tuck shop will also be available for people in attendance.
This year’s event saw more than 530 people taking part, a record for the chilly dip, with hundreds more people lining Stokes Bay to watch their friends and family.
Some went into Solent waters for a brief dip, while others went for a much longer swim.