FREEZING temperatures and frosty conditions were not enough to stop a group of fundraisers from taking the plunge in the River Thames.
Ten men and women from the Swindon branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club donned their dry suits, gloves and fins yesterday morning to swim from Inglesham to St John’s Lock in Lechlade.
They completed the two-mile swim in about half-an-hour, raising about £1,000 to be divided between the club and the RNLI.
Jeff Bryan, 60, who organised and took part in the event, said: “It was very quick today. We have done it in 20 minutes in the past but it can take as long as an hour and a half. Last year it was very slow.
“This event is the first time we can all get together again in the new year. “The weather doesn’t put people off. Your hands tend to suffer a bit but generally we’re all in dry suits so the cold doesn’t tend to be an issue.
“It’s fun and we have done it for years now. “We raise funds for the RNLI because if there are problems when we are diving at sea they are the guys that help us. It is a very good cause.”
The team, who started the challenge at about 10am near St John the Baptist Church, in Inglesham, bobbed and paddled downstream.
They were accompanied by a safety boat, which lead the group.
Club chairman, Robin Maggs, who swam despite suffering from bronchitis, said: “It was a very comfortable and nice float. It was easy compared to other years. “The flow was good so I only had to swim a small amount.
“It was the easiest conditions we could have had. This event is a tradition now. I have done it at least 30 times,” said the 62-year-old, of Gorse Hill.
Dozens of supporters walked alongside the swimmers as they took part in the annual fundraiser.
Gill Marsh, public relations officer for the club, said: “It is quite a fun thing to do. You can hear them laughing and joking as they are coming down.”
They headed to The Trout Inn pub for soup after completing the challenge.