It’s time to take the plunge and make a real big splash

Dieter Rutkowski, men's winner at  last year's swim
Dieter Rutkowski, men's winner at last year's swim

Swimmers are invited to brave the icy waters while celebrating an upper Calder Valley tradition this weekend.

Todmorden Amateur Swimming Club members, sponsored by Todmorden Lions, host their New Year Swim at Lee Dam, in Lumbutts village above Todmorden, on Sunday, January 12, where competitors will aim to retrieve a wooden trophy thrown into the water - or just have some fun, in chilly surroundings!

Registration for the event, which dates back more than 50 years, is at 1.30pm before the event starts at 2pm.

The entry fee is £5 for adults and £2.50 for children, although pre-day tickets to take part are available at a cheaper rate - for more information or to buy tickets call Debbie Lorimer on 07513 123097.

Proceeds go to Todmorden Amateur Swimming Club and entrants are also invited to raise funds for other causes. Problems with insurance cover had threatened the future of the event until the Lions stepped in to offer support.

All that is now needed is people to have a go, hopefully in favourable conditions as on occasion the swim has had to be postponed due to thick ice, said Debbie.

Warm soup and a roll at the nearby Top Brink pub is on hand to warm swimmers up afterwards.

Prizes are presented for men’s, women’s, boys’ and girls’ races and the event is also supported by local scouts and Pennine Sun Aqua Club.

Todmorden Amateur Swimming Club’s annual fundraiser has become a staple in the Calder Valley events calendar over the years, stretching back more than 50 years.

At the inaugural swim on New Year’s Day 1961, members of Todmorden Swimming Club were joined by representatives from the British Long Distance Swimming Association to compete for the “Longest In” trophy, which was presented to the swimmer who remained in the chilly water the longest.

The winner was 18-year-old Dorothy Perkins, from Bradford, who stayed in the water for ten and a half minutes.

She was presented with a trophy - a wooden cup - by the then treasurer of Todmorden Swimming Club, Leonard Price. A warming-up party was held afterwards at Todmorden Ambulance Hall.

More than 200 spectators attended the swim to cheer on the competitors.

The event also attracted a considerable amount of outside interest, including the BBC who sent a cameraman to film the swim.

These days you need only stay in the water as long as you feel comfortable.

For many years the swim was held on New Year’s Day but is now held on a Sunday once the month is under way.

The date has to be flexible to a degree - it takes a lot for it to be postponed but exceptionally icy weather has meant the event has had to be moved on occasion if it is deemed that chunks of ice broken to free up the water may be dangerous to swimmers.