Over 860 bathers splashed their way into 2008 when they took the plunge in Saundersfoot’s record-breaking New Year’s Day Swim. A Roman invasion from Saundersfoot School was among the best ever turnout of 865 dippy dippers to brave the chilly waters on Tuesday. They were joined by the Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters, Christmas puddings, the Spice Girls, penguins, pirates, a flock of sheep and a pack of aces, in a bid to raise bumper sums for charity.

Thousands of cheering spectators, meanwhile, helped compère DJ Benny Bond (Kevin Lloyd) in a grand countdown to a fireworks launch, courtesy of Westcoast Fireworks, and a maroon set off by HM Coastguard, which sent the swimmers on a relatively short stampede into the water, And such were the throngs of spectators that BBC sports presenter, Rachel Treadaway-Williams, who was due to wave the flag to send the bathers on their way to the waves, was unable to get to the beach in time. Fortunately, though, County Councillor Rosemary Hayes stood in.

Among those braving the briny were the hardy quartet of John Joseph (who this year was Johnny Depp’s or on this occasion “Johnny Dip’s” character Captain Jack Sparrow), Mick Hamilton and Gethin Evans (as Ghostbusters) and Chris Williams (who is recovering from a back operation and only paddled in the water), who maintained their record of having taken part in every single Saundersfoot swim.

And while some were in and out of the water – said to be a mild 10 degrees – in a flash, one of those to make the most of his January 1 dip was Selwyn Price, of Whitland, who stayed in the sea for 28 minutes.

Wogan Guest House, as the Blues Brothers, won one of the prizes for the best fancy dressed group – 10 premier tickets for Bath Racecourse, while Saundersfoot School won the other – Oakwood family tickets, while Nicky Guymer won best individual fancy dress as Stig from Top Gear.And don’t forget, all swimmers who present their medals at the Sands Nightclub tomorrow (Saturday), will be granted free entry, courtesy of the club management.

Sponsored this year by Powell’s Cottage Holidays, Pembrokeshire Financial Services, Neil Finlay Cars, Sands Nightclub and Oakwood, chairman of event organisers, Saundersfoot Festivities, Martyn Williams, described the day as “absolutely marvellous. “The swim was incredible, we had the most ever swimmers, so we hope to raise a record-breaking sum for charity too,” said Martyn, who himself has raised £1,000 for Brest Cancer.

Already the bucket collection has topped £2,500, while a generous donation was made for Breast Cancer by a South African family, now living in Sydney, spending New Year’s Eve in Milford Haven, who heard about the swim and travelled over to Saundersfoot to make their pledge.

Among the charities set to benefit from this year’s 24th annual swim are Lupus, Macmillan Nurses, RNLI, Cancer Research, Diabetes Wales, Wales Air Ambulance, NSPCC, Withybush Hospital, Leukaemia Research, Ollie Morgan Trust Fund and Breast Cancer.

There are already a large number of teams from local pubs, restaurants and businesses in line to receive Blue Tit awards, and to register your team (of four or more people) for one, telephone Martyn Williams on 813039.

Swimmers are asked to hand in their sponsorship money as soon as possible to either Evans Newsagents or Walk on Water.

Next year, the swim will be celebrating its 25th anniversary and it will have a special ‘silver’ theme, plans for which are already in the pipeline.

Safety cover was provided by Tenby Surflink, St. John Ambulance, RNLI and HM Coastguard, while firefighters from Tenby were out and about bucket collecting.



2008 swim

2008 swim