Conditions on the wild side for the annual Polar Bear swim

IT WAS as wet out of the water as it was in it for the annual Polar Bear swim at La Vallette on Christmas Day morning.

But the rain, coupled with a stiff north easterly breeze and 7.9m high tide which made for turbulent swimming, failed to deter hundreds of people who collected certificates in recognition of their efforts.

The Guernsey Swimming Club's event has been running for more than 50 years and its popularity only seems to increase.

Brave smiles from Christa, left, and Linda Cahill. (30344864)

Advisory director Dawn Sealey and son Jack, 8, who goes to Hautes Capelles Primary School, were taking part for the second year running. Mrs Sealey said it was a good way to start Christmas and conditions in the pool had made it interesting.

‘It was wild,’ she said.’I wouldn’t call it a swim – more of a splash and a bomb.’

Interior designer Kathryn Cook, and partner Clement Behague, both 31, were visiting Guernsey from the south of France, and taking part for the first time.

‘We’re here to visit family but they didn’t want come down here,’ she said. ‘Doing something like this makes you want to do it more often.’

Nurse Silvi Kovacic captures the moment. (30344880)

PEH nurse, Silvi Kovacic, 41, said the water had been like putting yourself in a washing machine. She stayed in for about 20 minutes.

‘It’s lovely to see so many people coming out today when it’s not the greatest weather,’ she said. ‘I swim as often as my time will allow and I did the same when I lived in Scotland.’

The weather conditions had made it more challenging, particularly when it came to trying to get changed, she said.

A Christmas Day duty for many years for Guernsey Swimming Club stalwart Jo Norman, giving out the certificates. (30344886)

Guernsey FC striker, Ross Allen, 34, and friend Tom Hollingsworth, 33, were also braving the conditions.

‘I got in to year-round swimming after taking part in this last year and I loved it, though I think it was much warmer then,’ said Mr Allen.

Mr Hollingsworth, one of the island's best-ever competitive swimmers, said the conditions were dramatic. ‘It was as if the water was pulling you in,’ he said.

Hot showers welcome after enforced pool switch

REFURBISHMENT of the kiosk and changing rooms meant the swim had to move from the ladies to the children’s pool for 2021.

Guernsey Swimming Club president Chris Butt said that was fortunate as the ladies pool could not have been used given the conditions and the other one was much safer.

‘The sea temperature is 11 degrees, which is the good news, but the wind chill factor has brought the air temperature right down,’ he said.

‘We’re fortunate that they’ve kindly opened the new changing rooms today and the hot showers have been most welcome.’

Despite the scheduled 9.30am start,

the first swimmers were in the water at 8am.

‘I think our youngest swimmer was five and we’ve had some in their 70s,’ said Mr Butt.

In the region of 300 to 500 certificates were handed out to participants each year.

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