No need to break the ice, with bumper entry and big crowd

The ladies take to the water, in the annual Todmorden Swimming Club New Year Swim at Lee Dam, Lumbutts
The ladies take to the water, in the annual Todmorden Swimming Club New Year Swim at Lee Dam, Lumbutts

Brave swimmers made a splash as they tackled the cold waters at the annual New Year swim at Lumbutts, high on the hills above Todmorden.

With the water temperature at Lee Dam at 4C, 38 entries across all the categories carried on the upper Calder Valley tradition of an open-air New Year Swim and made a fantastic spectacle which was one of the best supported for years.

Swimmers spent around two minutes in the water with the winners’ the first to collect the trophies, which had been carried out by diving officer Matt Allaby.

“It was warmer this time around as we had to break the ice last year. It was a lot better as we could get out further and people could have a proper swim,” he said.

Boys winner Harry Brown, of Todmorden, who vowed last year that he would not be doing it again, retained his title and said it was a lot easier this year.

Lucy Sullivan, 12, from Todmorden, also said the conditions were a lot warmer from last year.

Debutant David Massey, who came to watch the event in 2013, took home the men’s crown.

“Getting out there wasn’t too bad. It is when you have to turn around and swim back with the trophy that the cold hits you,” said the 27-year-old from Slaithwaite, Huddersfield.

Claire Smithers, 45, of Todmorden, was another to retain her crown in the women’s section and is already looking to make it a hat-trick next year.

“I just dived in and went for it,” she said. “Swimming back is the hardest bit. It really is exhilarating. You can feel your heart pumping and all your other organs going.”

An appreciation award was also presented to Mr Allaby and Matt Harrow who helped the event to take place. Proceeds go to the Todmorden Swimming Club which organises the swim.

Swimming club spokeswoman Debbie Lorimer thanked all those taking part and especially Todmorden Lions, who came to the rescue when the swim was cancelled in 2012 due to insurance problems. The Lions stepped in to support the community event through its public event insurance. The club also wished to thank St John’s Ambulance from Rochdale who were on hand to help the swimmers.

The swim dates back to 1961 and has been held at Lee Dam for more than 20 years.
It has also been held at Gaddings Dam, Todmorden, and in the canal at Hebden Bridge.