Make your date with great valley tradition

New Year Swim at Lee Dam, Lumbutts. Winner of the men's race Craig Ellis.

New Year Swim at Lee Dam, Lumbutts. Winner of the men's race Craig Ellis.

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Water has caused so much devastation in the Calder Valley in the past few weeks but one traditional event is set to harness it for the good.

As the valley strives to recover and bring visitors into the area, a tradition going back more than 50 years will be taking place on Sunday, January 17, when Todmorden Amateur Swimming Club and Todmorden Lions will be supporting the New Year Swim at Lee Dam, Lumbutts, on the hills above Todmorden.

The tradition goes back to 1961 and had its origins in fundraising for a swimming pool in Todmorden, later also being supported by many other Calder Valley people, having spells at Gaddings Dam, Todmorden, and the Rochdale Canal at Hebden Bridge before returning to its traditional Lee Dam home.

Originally, the swim was held on New Year’s Day, but in more recent decades it has switched to a Sunday in January and occasionally if conditions are too icy - though swimmers have also taken to the water when it does not pose any danger and has bee n broken - has had to be postponed from time to time.

The swim is now a major fundraiser for Todmorden Amateur Swimming Club, which coaches children and adults from the Calder Valley, including courses which teach people how to swim.

Several years ago the swim’s future looked in doubt due to insurance issues, with Todmorden Lions Club stepping in to support the event through its public event insurance.

Other organisations usually helping out include Pennine Sub Aqua Club and St John Ambulance volunteers.

There are trophies launched in to be swum for, with men’s, women’s, boys’ and girls’ categories to be competed for, but above all it is fun, with fancy dress welcomed for those who wish to dress for the occasion!

Registration is at 1.30pm with the swim to start at 2pm, and the cost to enter is £5 for adults and £2.50 for under 16s.

Certificates are usually awarded to those taking the plunge and another tradition - hot soup for all the brave swimmers in the nearby Top Brink - takes place immediately afterwards.