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Health & Fitness: Sheerness lifeboat crew join in the fun for a chilly Boxing Day dip

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By [email protected] (John Nurden)

Swimmers in Santa hats and not much else braved the cold for a chilly Boxing Day dip.

They gathered at the beach huts on The Leas at Minster on the Isle of Sheppey for the annual festive freeze.

Among them was Sam Mackay, the head teacher of Rose Street Primary School, who gave a quick lesson in endurance.

Clad only in swimming cozzie, Range Rovers FC T-shirt and a Santa hat, she took the plunge along with fellow first-timers Sophie Nelson, Dan Hanson and Ross Burford to support "the community" and show solidarity with wild water swimmers the Sheppey Blue Tits.

At the end of their ordeal they emerged shivering to confirm the water was "freezing" and that they had no plans to repeat the experience.

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Also taking a dip were Craig Ashurst and Neill Gilbert, neither of whom had bothered with any pre-event training regime.

Craig said: "We just wanted to join in the fun. It should be warm because it's the sea and we have the currents with us."

Neill, standing on the promenade, added: "It seemed a good idea at the time. We decided to have a go for a life experience."

He predicted, wrongly: "It will be like a trip to Barbados."

Other more experienced wild water swimmers went prepared with flasks of hot mulled wine to consume afterwards.

Joining them all as a special treat was the crew of the new £2.2m Sheerness RNLI lifeboat the Judith Copping Joyce which, because of its jet-thrusters instead of propellers, could get within touching distance of the beach.

After saluting the intrepid dippers, the lifeboat gave a brief toot of its klaxon before returning to its base in Sheerness docks.

The swim was organised by the Minster Beach Huts Association.

Little Mix's Jade Thirlwall goes for Boxing Day swim in icy waters dressed as an elf .
She's brave!

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