Brighton's Christmas Day swim beach closed

Swimmers stand in the snow on Brighton beach
Image caption Brighton Swimming Club has organised the annual swim every year since 1860

Brighton beach is to be closed at the site of the city's traditional Christmas Day swim following forecasts of hazardous sea conditions.

Brighton and Hove City Council said conditions would be extremely dangerous for novice and experienced swimmers.

Gusts of between 25mph and 30mph are forecast on the Sussex coast for the morning of 25 December, following almost a week of heavy sea swell.

Brighton Swimming Club has organised the annual swim every year since 1860.

Dozens normally take part in the event in the English Channel at 11:00 GMT near Brighton Pier.

Last year it was open to members of the club only, with the public warned not to take part because tides of up to 22ft (6.7m) coupled with strong winds made conditions too dangerous.

The city council said this year tides of up 19ft (5.7m) were expected, with volatile sea conditions.

'Not worth risk'

The seafront team will be on the beach from 08:30 GMT to put up closure signs and give advice, but the council said there were no beach lifeguards on duty in the winter.

"It can be tempting to have a splash in the sea at Christmas, but it's absolutely not worth putting yourself at risk," said seafront manager Viki Miller.

"Not only could you be caught out by the strong currents, but the sea temperature is extremely cold this time of year.

"We will be monitoring the weather on the day and will be advising people about safety.

"The conditions are already hazardous, with the forecast set to get worse, so as a last resort we will be closing the beach tomorrow.

"We want people to be able to enjoy the beach, but safety is a top priority."

President of Brighton Swimming Club, Margaret Tuppen, said: "We are quite happy with the responsible decision the council has made - safety comes first."

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