Christmas time is full of tradition, and the Christmas Day Dip in the sea at Brighton is one that can be traced back 154 years. The event, organised by Brighton Swimming Club since 1860, is simple: brave swimmers from the club would take a dip in the sea on 25 December – a tradition that now attracts up to 4,000 people in addition to club members.
Brighton Swimming Club currently has approximately 30 experienced swimmers in it. However, the issue is they are now being joined by thousands of inexperienced swimmers who can often turn out in fancy dress, some of which turn up after some heavy drinking.
Sadly, the tradition will not be seen this year, as Brighton and Hove City Council will be closing parts of the beach on Christmas day on the grounds of safety, in the hope that the closures will discourage inexperienced swimmers from swimming in cold waters, especially if they have consumed alcohol.
Brighton and Hove City Council's safety fears are not, however, unfounded. In October, an experienced swimmer had to be rescued after getting into difficulty near Brighton's famous pier. In addition, a woman died in 2012 in a similar swim in Hastings.
As a result, Council officials met with Brighton Swimming Club, which then agreed to cancel the event. Margaret Tuppen, the president of the swimming club, said, “I do moan about health and safety sometimes, but the conclusion of the meeting was that it can be quite dangerous — especially when drink is involved.” She added, “If it means a tragedy is prevented, then we support the decision.”