Traditional Christmas Day race at Hyde Park kicks off

Published on : Monday, December 26, 2016

Traditional-Christmas-Day-race-300x168While children across London are eagerly waiting to unwrap their presents, members of the Serpentine Swimming Club are preparing to swim their traditional 100-yard (91-metre) Christmas Day race.

Swimmers have met in London’s Hyde Park on Christmas morning since 1864 to compete in the Christmas Day swim. The first Christmas Day swimming race was won by H. Coulter. He won a gold medal, which became the customary prize for the winner.

The Serpentine Swimming Club is one of the oldest swimming clubs in the country. The club holds races every Saturday morning, with the distance depending on the time of year.

Novelist J.M. Barrie donated the first Peter Pan Cup in 1904, the same year that his play Peter Pan made its debut on the London stage. Like the fictional boy who never grew up, the race has taken on a legendary appeal.

The Peter Pan Cup is only open to members of the Serpentine Swimming Club who have qualified during the season. The icy Serpentine waters are usually below 4 degree Celsius (40F) degrees in the winter, so swimmers must become acclimatised over a period of time.

The race on 25 December starts at 9am and takes place on the south bank of the lake, close to the Serpentine Café. Spectators are welcome, but you’re advised to wrap up warm!

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