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How did you spend Christmas Day? Oh, just jumping into ice cold pond water on Hampstead Heath

Scores of people ­gathered on the banks of the pond to watch the brave swimmers take the plunge

03 January, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

The scene at the Hampstead Heath ponds on Christmas Day

A GHOST from Christmases past appeared at the Hampstead Heath Christmas Day swim this year – in the form of a medal cast 101 years ago for the winner of the annual festive races.

Lifeguard Glyn Roberts found the silver medal, cast in 1915, online and brought it to the event to present to the winner of this year’s Men’s Pond swimming club the Highgate Lifebuoys race.

The medal has the legend “Osborne Trophy” inscribed on the front, with the name DB Phillips cast on the back, and Mr Roberts said it was a unique piece of ponds swimming history.

He said: “I collect items related to the ponds and the Heath – I was so pleased to have found such an interesting piece of ponds history.”

Glyn Roberts

Scores of people ­gathered on the banks of the pond to watch the brave swimmers take the plunge. This year, the water temperature was an acceptable seven degrees.

The men’s allcomers race was divided into two groups due to the sheer numbers of people who wanted to shake off Christmas morning hangovers and prove their mettle by competing in the 40-yard freestyle dash. The overall winner of the two races was David Josephs, who ­completed the course in a blistering 29 seconds, beating regulars Jonathan Bindman, Edwin Redzepagic and David Greenstreet by three ­seconds.

Ladies Pond regulars warm up after their festive swim on the Heath

Some of the swimmers who took part in the traditional Highgate Lifebuoys race

The women’s race winner was a familiar face: Kenwood Ladies Pond regular Vanessa Hammond has bagged the ladies’ trophy numerous times, and won the event by two lengths.

The Highgate Lifebuoys race is conducted using a handicap system, and the winner was regular Dwight Polar.

Ellie Gould, Lucy Sivaraman and Sarah John

Daniel McMinn backflips into the Christmas Day water

Lucy Sivaraman included a Christmas Day swim in her fundraising campaign for charity Grief Encounter, in memory of her husband Viv, who died suddenly after collapsing during a fitness training session, aged 36, on Hampstead Heath in 2015. Viv, a father-of-four, was an anaesthetist at UCLH and the Royal Free.

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