Happy New Year to you all.

I hope you had an enjoyable and relaxing time, although if family were involved, then I sincerely doubt it! ;)

This year I completed my first ever Xmas Day Swim at Coney - the first one to have snow on the ground apparently.

I wasn't sure what to expect but came prepared, as any man should for such an occasion - dressed in a penguin outfit...

I'd worn wetsuit boots on my feet for the walk down, as parking was chaotic with 100's of people turning up to watch the spectacle unfold, but my two swimming 'compadres' and swim veterans quickly assured me that wetsuit boots were not permitted.

Sadly, I buckled under peer pressure and immediately regretted it as the klaxon sounded to announce the start of the swim.

As we mustered outside the Hi-Tide Inn, Coney Beach, it quickly became apparent that our feet were beginning to stick to the icy tarmac.

As I handed my boots over to a stall owner for safe keeping, she begged me to keep them, explaining to me that I needed them and that it was very cold in the sea! ;)

If we could have just run in then it wouldn't have been so bad, but we had to stand still in a crowd and wait patiently, as swimmers slowly moved down the concrete steps towards the ocean.

After seeing the sand coming into view in, I was feeling a little more optimistic before realising that there was a layer of hard ice and snow covering it, and my feet finally gave up and went completely numb.

We plodded down, semi-naked people of all shapes, sizes, ages and sexes and plenty of great fancy dress costumes too, all raising money for charities in the process.This year 860 people took part in the 46th swim, raising more than £7,400 for local charities.

Andrew Wilkinson, myself and Jonathan Cosson immediately after the 2010 Xmas Day swim at Coney Beach.

The moment finally came, and a 'friend' of mine attempted to give me a helping hand into the water. At this point I did what any penguin would do and dived in, unassisted. Brrrrrr!

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps 'pleasant' is the wrong word but it was nowhere near as cold as I was expecting and anything was warmer than standing on the ice - even for a penguin.

After a quick photo call, I grabbed my wetsuit boots and ran/ hobbled back to my car and off home where I was supposed to be cooking Xmas dinner for eleven.

Would I do it again? Definitely. It was great fun.

There are a few videos of the 2010 swim on You Tube currently but this one has some nice shots of the beach covered in snow

This is the first time the concrete penguins on Aberavon sea front have ever seen snow! Image taken by Susan Llewellyn on 23 December 2010.

Staying on the subject of swimming and cold water, I've just received an e-mail from Mike Bright who does a wild swimming in Wales blog.

Mike does this this for fun all year round, something I can't personally recommend but each to their own! But the thought of swimming without a wetsuit in the sea, for fun in December fills me with dread.

In case you were wondering, the current sea temperature for South Wales off Porthcawl is 6.5 degrees Celsius. It dropped below 5 degrees last year so could get a little cooler yet.

Gull

Related link:

Surfing at Coney Beach

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