The independent London newspaper

IN PICTURES: The Christmas Day swim at Hampstead Heath ponds

Swimmers brave ice water

02 January, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

THEY were a mixture of hardy pond swimming regulars, those who fancied the ultimate Christmas Day hang­over cure – and a small group who were quietly regretting accepting a Christmas Eve pub challenge the night before.

And with so many people showing up to enjoy the annual Christmas Day swim at the Men’s Pond, life­guards had to split both the men’s and women’s races into two groups to accommodate all those who wanted to savour the four degree water.

Gidon, Remy and Sonny Lieberman

David Spero and Jack Knight

For one swimmer, the event was record-breaking: Ladies Pond regular Vanessa Hammond won the women’s race by four lengths – for the ninth year in a row. Others approached the dip in a more leisurely fashion. Pond regulars David Spero and Jack Knight came for their daily immersion, while the Liebermans – dad Gidon, Remy, 18 and Sonny, 14 – decided a family splash was the perfect way to start the day.

Lifeguards provided mince pies and mulled wine for chilly swimmers and the hundreds of spectators alike – and Heath manager Paul Maskell, joined by Highgate Lifebuoys swimming club president Chris Ruocco, led a poignant moment of silent reflection in memory of lifeguard Glyn Roberts, who passed away in 2017 and was a stalwart of the Christmas morning swim event.

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