Boxing Day swimmers swept into rocks in choppy waters are rescued dripping with blood

Swimming into terror: Bloodied on Boxing Day, lifeboat fundraisers swept on to the rocks
RNLI crews rushed to help injured participants, some in fancy dress

|

UPDATED:

23:49 GMT, 26 December 2012

Jumping into the sea on a chilly Boxing Day was always going to hurt.

But these unlucky swimmers found the experience extra painful after they were swept on to rocks.

The choppy waters braved in yesterday’s annual dip meant many emerged from the sea dripping with blood.

Cuts and bruises: The injured swimmers hobble over the rocks to shore, helped by lifeguards and bystanders

Cuts and bruises: The injured swimmers hobble over the rocks to shore, helped by lifeguards and bystanders

Pull

Groyne

Danger: A man is wrenched from the stormy sea after the situation began to look worrying

RNLI crews and bystanders rushed to
help injured participants, some of whom were in fancy dress, at the
afternoon swim in Sidmouth, Devon.

Many of the 370 swimmers, who were
raising money for their local branch of the RNLI, emerged shivering and
wounded after the 11am start.

Eve Mathews, who watched the swim,
said: ‘It is a classic Boxing Day event in Sidmouth and everyone enjoys
taking part, but this year the conditions weren’t great.

‘It was quite choppy. Some of the swimmers were swept towards the rocks.

‘The barnacle-covered rocks meant the
swimmers in difficulty were well covered by grazes. The Inshore Rescue
members on the beach went to help.’

Poor weather for swimming: Heavy rain throughout December has caused havoc across Britain

Poor weather for swimming: Heavy rain throughout December has caused havoc across Britain

Up until five years ago only a few dozen took part in the Sidmouth event, but the number has since increased tenfold.

Organiser Keith Knight said: ‘A few
people had a few scrapes but there were no serious injuries. It went
well given the weather, with some having a paddle and others enjoying a
swim.’

The Boxing Day swim, which started in
Sidmouth in 1985, is one of numerous similar events held across the
country. Seen by some as a bracing and effective way to freshen up after
a day spent eating and drinking to excess, it is viewed by others as a
foolish and uncomfortable exercise.

A swim across the Thames in Henley was called off after the Environment Agency said the river was dangerously flooded.

It was flowing so fast that the safety boats would not be able to manoeuvre if any of the swimmers got into trouble.

Unhappy ending: The fun-loving fundraisers clambered out of the water with the help of a lifeboat and a few dedicated Boxing Day lifeguards

Unhappy ending: The fun-loving fundraisers clambered out of the water with the help of a lifeboat and a few dedicated Boxing Day lifeguards

Grateful: The swimmers were relieved to be back on dry land after what could have been a very nasty Boxing Day surprise

Grateful: The swimmers were relieved to be back on dry land after what could have been a very nasty Boxing Day surprise

A Christmas Day swim in Brighton was
also called off after the local council closed the beach because of bad
weather. Brighton and Hove City Council said conditions would be
‘extremely dangerous’ for even experienced swimmers, with winds of up to
30mph, a high tide and a heavy sea swell forecast.

Along the south coast, a woman died when a wave knocked her off her feet as she paddled off Hastings beach in East Sussex.

Three witnesses tried in vain to
rescue her and she was washed a short distance out to sea before being
recovered by a lifeboat crew. She had been with a small group of bathers
who decided to brave the sea on Christmas morning despite dangerous
conditions.

With winds gusting up to 50mph, the
coastguard said conditions were ‘not suitable for swimming or small
craft’ when the incident happened at 10.40am.

He said the woman suffered head
injuries when she was washed into a groyne, a barrier made of concrete,
steel and timber leading from the beach to the sea which is designed to
reduce erosion.