The Tenby Boxing Day Swim!
Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
Thank you very much for helping me to raise over £330 for H.O.P.E. on my Boxing Day Swim. By 10.30 several hundred of us had gathered on Tenby’s North Beach. I lost count of the number of Father Christmasses, Vikings, Planet Earths, Vicars, Cricketers and Christmas fairies getting ready for the swim. Looking for someone to start a conversation with (there can’t be anything more embarrassing than standing around in swimming shorts being stared at by thousands of extremely well-clad onlookers), l met a very jolly, rotund Father and Mother Christmas. Together they resembled a pair of gigantic knitted red peppers. ‘Well boyo, I said to the wife I wouldn’t make the mistake I made last year, so today I’m wearing sandals, two pairs of woollen socks, thermal long johns, a vest, over-trousers, a shirt and sweater underneath my fleece Father Christmas suit’. I felt a pang of anxiety. Was I rather under-insulated for the occasion? There was no time to panic – a shout came over the tannoy and the three of us joined in the mad headlong rush to the sea.
A vicar tripped over his vestments, several Father Christmases collided with one another and a small fairy fell over in the surf. The Vikings whimpered, a bearded nurse mislaid a breast and the swimmer dressed as a cardboard Christmas tree lost several baubles as his branches sagged with seawater. It was bedlam in the finest Welsh tradition. A group of us swam out a little further and when I stopped and looked back, I realised two things; I was out of my depth and it was, unsurprisingly, eye-wateringly, teeth-clenchingly cold. However, it was worth it just for the view. The whole of Tenby seemed to have turned out to cheer the swimmers on. Every balcony, balustrade, pavement, road, garden and windowsill was filled with onlookers. Between us a huge beach bonfire sparked and roared like something from the set of the Wicker Man. I swam back and walked up the beach looking like a slightly undercooked lobster. Someone thrust a cup of steaming vegetable soup into my hand (thank you Tenby Lions!) and I felt that fantastic endorphin rush as the body’s thermostat puts its foot on the gas and says ‘that really is quite enough madness for today Kevin, thank you very much’. A big thank you to Tyna and Rhiannon for being there too.