SEVENTEEN hardy souls took to the waters for this year’s New Year Swim.
In weather as well suited to the swimmers as anyone - it rained steadily through the afternoon, leaving spectators swathed in waterproofs and clutching brollies - they plunged into Lee Dam to raise money for charity and have a simply splashing time!
The swim is organised by Todmorden Swimming Club at the Lumbutts Dam, and is one of the upper Calder Valley’s great traditions.
Mayor and Mayoress of Todmorden, Coun Margareta Holmstedt and Coun Dorothy Jordan, watched from above the dam as Deputy Mayor Coun Richard White set the swimmers off to race for a series of wooden trophies thrown into the water. First to the men’s trophy was Dieter Rutkowski, while the women’s race was won by Shelley Sullivan. Katie Harrow claimed the girls’ trophy and the boys’ was won by Sam Barker, said Debbie Lorimer of Todmorden Swimming Club.
“Sam won it for the boys and asked if he could go back in the water again, which he did!” said Debbie.
“We also had a swimmer on crutches who had taken part in the event back in the 1970s and 1980s - he took the plunge and did the swim.”
This year the water was relatively warm at 6C - there have been many chillier occasions.
But most swimmers were still keen to retire to the nearby Top Brink Inn, where hot soup and rolls were served courtesy of the hostelry. Here the Mayor and Mayoress presented the prizes and each swimmer taking part was presented with a certificate.
There was also a family element to the swim - girls’ winner Katie is the daughter of Matt Harrow, who along with Jon Sayer were the canoeists on duty on the day. St John Ambulance volunteers and divers Matt Allaby and Alan Richardson of Pennine Sub-Aqua Club were also on hand.
The event is an important fund-raiser for the swimming club, with half of sponsor money raised going towards the costs of teaching people how to swim and improve their swimming. The other half of money raised by each swimmer is donated to a charity of their choice.
The event has traditionally been held at Lee Dam but was also held for several years at the marina in Hebden Bridge when the dam was unable to be used, with input from Hebden Bridge and District Swimming Association.
It has now been back at the dam for some time by kind permission of Sylvia Schofield. Debbie said: “We want to thank everyone who has helped make the event happen, from volunteers to swimmers and spectators. A great time was had by all.”
She added that Todmorden Swimming Club is looking out for extra volunteers to help run its many events. If anyone is interested in helping out, they should ring Sue MacDonald on 01706 817516.