RNLI urge Christmas swimmers to stay safe before they dive in

Lifeboats News Release

For thousands up and down the coast, a festive dip in the sea is part of a Christmas tradition. RNLI lifeboat stations, community groups and charities have organised dips on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day from their local beaches.

RNLI/Richard Martin

Boxing Day Dip Newbiggin by the Sea

Nick Ayers, RNLI Community Safety Partner, said: ‘The festive dip is now a firm family favourite in the calendar as many brave swimmers take the plunge year after year with their families and friends over the holidays.

‘As the charity that saves lives at sea, we want to remind people that over winter the sea is at its coldest. We hope all enjoy the water, but are also aware of what do to if they or their fellow swimmers do get into trouble. Before going in, we urge people to remember the risks of cold water shock and what to do if it happens to them. The simple act of floating could save a life.’

  • If you run straight into cold water you are more likely to suffer from cold water shock. The best way to avoid this is to wear a wetsuit. If this isn’t possible, walk into the sea slowly and stay shallow. This will allow your body time to acclimatise gradually.
  • Cold water shock is a physiological response, which causes uncontrollable gasping. This increases the risk of you swallowing water and puts a strain on your heart- in extreme cases it can cause cardiac arrest. If you feel you this happening to you, fight your instinct to thrash around and swim hard, instead just lie back and float. The initial shock will pass within 60–90 seconds, and when you have regained control of your breathing, you can then try swimming to safety or calling for help. This skill will give you a far better chance of staying alive.
  • If you see someone else in trouble in the water, fight the instinct to go in yourself. Call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

The RNLI’s national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water, aims to raise awareness of key hazards like cold water shock, and lifesaving skills like floating. Find out more about how to float and about cold water shock by visiting www.RespectTheWater.com.

Nick added: ‘There are many local dips taking place at the coast over Christmas. I am taking part in the dip myself this year, making sure I’m part of an organised event and that I stay in a group. We encourage those who plan on taking part to join a scheduled event, as they will be in good company with other swimmers, as well as safety staff.’

Details of festive dips taking place on the north east and east coast are as follows:


The annual Boxing Day Dip takes place at 11am at Spittal Beach in aid of Mayoress' charities.

Newbiggin by the Sea

Newbiggin RNLI Lifeboat Station will be hosting this year's Boxing Day Dip at 11am from the promenade adjacent Bridge Street on the seafront to raise money for the RNLI station and volunteer crew.

Whitley Bay

The annual Boxing Day Swim is organised by the North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards to raise funds for the club. It will take place at 11am from the club HQ on Tynemouth Longsands.

South Shields

The South Shields dip takes place at Little Haven beach in aid of St Clare’s Hospice at 12pm.


The Lions Club of Sunderland is hosting its 44th Boxing Day Dip at Seaburn Beach. Those taking part will leave the Marriot Hotel at 11am to make their way to the beach.


The annual Seaham Boxing Day Dip is taking place at Seaham Harbour Marina at 11am.


The parade to the sea leaves at 11.30am from the Marine Hotel, Seaton Carew for the Hartlepool Round Table Boxing Day Dip.


Join hundreds of dippers raise funds for their favourite charity in this dip organised by Redcar Rotary Club. Register at The Hub, Esplanade, Redcar on Boxing Day from 10.15 before the dip from Dundas Str. Slipway at 11am.


Whitby Lions Boxing Day Dip takes place after meeting at the Bandstand 10am.


Scarborough Lions’ New Year’s Day dip takes place on the south beach in the early afternoon. Dippers should register at the Rowing Club from 10.30am onwards.


The Bridlington Christmas Day dip takes place at 10am and is being held in memory of Founder Warwick Connelly. Meet at 9.45am on North Marine Drive near to The Sands café.


The Annual Boxing Day Dip, which raises funds for the Flamborough Pre-School, starts at 10.45am at South Landing.


The Cromer Boxing Day dip will take place at 10am, an hour earlier than previous years to try and avoid the high tide. Organised by North Norfolk Beach Runners, this event is firmly fixed in the Christmas Calendar.


The Boxing Day dip will take place at the bottom of the gangway at 10.15am.


The New Year’s Day event will take place at 11am at the East End Slip of the Tank Beach.


Christmas Day Swim takes place at 11am off the Wash from Hunstanton Central Prom.


The 41st Christmas Day Charity Swim organised by the Sentinel Leisure Trust will take place at 10am at The Claremont Pier, Lowestoft.


The Christmas Day Swim will take place on the beach below Gun Hill, Southwold at 10:30am. The charity swim is organised by the Rotary Club of Southwold and District.


Media contacts

  • RNLI Regional Media Manager, Nicola Quinn, 07810 658 072 or nicola_quinn@rnli.org.uk
  • Nick Ayers is available as a spokesperson and will be in Lowestoft on Christmas Day taking part in the dip.

RNLI online

For more information on the RNLI please visit www.rnli.org.uk. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI Press Centre www.rnli.org.uk/press.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and has more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,200 lives.

Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland and registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736)

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.