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Try cold water swimming at a festive swim in Wales

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Thinking about trying cold water swimming at a festive swim in Wales? If you’re ready to brave the icy Welsh waters, you can choose from swims on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

Thousands of people from across the nation have been dipping into icy Welsh waters in this unusual festive tradition for many years. Some don their best fancy dress and raise money for charity. But for others, cold water swimming is for life – not just for the festive season. 

The Dawnstalkers and the Bluetits Chill Swimmers embrace the cold water every single day! And not only for the benefits it can have on recovery, reducing inflammation and muscle soreness. They do it to give their mental health a boost and for the strong sense of community it brings.

So, is there a better time to take the plunge into cold water than with an excited crowd at one of Wales’ festive swims? Unlock the benefits of cold water therapy and make it more than a once-a-year tradition.

Here is a list of festive swims in Wales you can try.

Where can I go for a festive swim in Wales?

Porthcawl Christmas Day Swim

When? 25th December. Event starts at 10:30am and the swim begins at 11:15am.
Where? Coney Beach, Porthcawl

The Porthcawl Christmas Swim has been taking place since 1965 and shows no signs of slowing up. More than a thousand people stampede towards the shore at Coney Beach every year.

Find out more about the Porthcawl Christmas Day Swim here.

Tenby Boxing Day Swim

When? 26th December from 11am
Where? North Beach, Tenby

Another festive swim steeped in tradition – the people of Pembrokeshire have been making waves at North Beach on Boxing Day for more than 50 years. 

Find out more about Tenby Boxing Day Swim.

Two girls in tinsel-lined swimsuits, someone wearing The Grinch fancy dress and a man dressed as a pirate in the sea on Boxing Day
Credit: Gareth Davies Photography Tenby

Llandudno Lions Club Boxing Day Dip

When? 26th December. Check in from 10am and the dip starts at 11.30am.
Where? North Shore Beach, Llandudno

The Boxing Day dip at Llandudno is quite possibly the coldest festive swim in Wales with sea temperatures at a nippy 9°C. Hot soup at St George’s Hotel will be ready to warm you up after braving the Irish Sea.

Find out more about Llandudno Lions Club Boxing Day Dip.

Pembrey Country Park Walrus Dip

When? 26th December. 10:30am arrival for 10:45am dip
Where? Cefn Sidan Beach, Pembrey Country Park

You may see some famous sporting faces at the Walrus Dip! It’s a family tradition for Wales rugby player, Ffion Lewis and her brother, 7 times Mr Olympia, Flex Lewis to brave the waves at Cefn Sidan. Make sure you get there in plenty of time as it’s a bit of walk from the car park to the shore!

Find out more about Pembrey Country Park Walrus Dip

Saundersfoot New Year's Day Swim

When? 1st January, 11:30am with swim at 2pm
Where? Saundersfoot Beach

One of the most popular festive swims in Wales, thousands pile onto the sands at Saundersfoot to start the New Year with a cold water swim. There’s one rule though – you must fully submerge yourself. Prepare for brain freeze! 

Find out more about Saundersfoot New Year’s Day Swim.

A group of women dressed as Wonder Woman in the sea on Boxing Day
Credit: Gareth Davies Photography Tenby

Abersoch RNLI New Year’s Day Swim

When? 1st January, register at 12pm and swim at 1pm 
Where? Main Beach, Abersoch

The festive tradition of splashing and dashing in the sea at Abersoch is a more recent one than many of the others on this list. Established in 2008, the local RNLI bring the community together to begin the New Year.

Find out more about the Abersoch RNLI New Year’s Day Swim here.

Whitesands New Year’s Day Swim

When? 1st January, register at 11am and swim at midday
Where? Whitesands Bay, St. Davids.

Welcome in the New Year with some West Wales waves at Whitesands. Usually a surfing hotspot on the Pembrokeshire coast, you can leave your wetsuits at home and the post-dip cawl can warm you up after.

Find out more about Whitesands New Year’s Day Swim.

RNLI Porthdinllaen New Year's Day Dip

When? 1st January, 11am
Where? Traeth Porthdinllaen

Find out more about RNLI Porthdinllaen New Year’s Day Dip here.

The Mayor's New Year's Day Dip, Parrog

When? 1st January
Where? Parrog, Newport, Pembrokeshire

What better way to start the New Year than by following your local mayor into the chilly water of the Nevern Estuary? Newport Boat Club will ensure you’re warmed up after you’ve splashed and dashed.

Find out more about the Mayor’s New Year’s Day Dip here.

Dawnstalkers Penarth 

When? Everyday. Meet just before sunrise.
Where? Penarth Seafront

It’s a daily tradition of the Dawnstalkers to take a sunrise dip. That means they’ll be taking their usual cold water sea dips on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and all the days in-between. Join them in Penarth across the festive period to give it a go.

Find out more about Dawnstalkers Penarth here.

A member of the Dawnstalkers in the sea, wearng an elf hat, beaming with joy.
The Dawnstakers swim all year round.

The Bluetits Chill Swimmers

When? Everyday
Where? Various locations across Wales and the UK

Born in Pembrokeshire, the Bluetits Chill Swimmers have built up a community of more than 100,000 participants across the globe.

23 of the 150 Bluetits groups (or flocks, as they like to call themselves) are based here in Wales who, like the Dawnstalkers, make it a daily habit to immerse themselves in cold water. If you don’t live near the coast, fear not as there a few inland flocks who take advantage of some of Wales’ rivers, lakes and ponds to experience their cold water therapy.

Find a Bluetits flock near you here.

Cold Water Therapy

Cold water swimming is for life – not just for the festive season. Just ask the Dawnstalkers and the Bluetits, just two of many cold water swimming groups in Wales who embrace icy waters every single day!

Top tips for going for a cold water swim

While there are benefits to cold water swimming, don’t forget that you need to ensure you are taking part safely. Risks include cold water shock and hypothermia while riptides and currents in open water can also present dangers. Take your time, be sensible and you’ll enjoy being part of the cold water community.

Here are some top tips to help you get started:

So, give cold water swimming a go with a festive swim, or find a local group near you, and discover the wonders of cold water therapy.

For more information on Open Water Swimming, visit Swim Wales.

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