In Pictures: Santa thaws as hundreds brave Christmas Day swims

One of the more bracing Christmas traditions in some parts of the UK and Ireland is an outdoor swim in the sea or a lake.

Around the country, there was a festive theme with swimmers in Santa-inspired costumes and decked out in waterproof tinsel.

In London, the Serpentine Swimming Club hosted its annual Christmas morning race for the Peter Pan cup. The event has been held on the Hyde Park lake every year since 1864.

Christmas Serpentine swim 2019
Christmas Serpentine swim 2019
Christmas Serpentine swim 2019
Christmas Serpentine swim 2019
Christmas Serpentine swim 2019
Christmas Serpentine swim 2019
Christmas Serpentine swim 2019
Christmas Serpentine swim 2019
Christmas Serpentine swim 2019
Christmas Serpentine swim 2019

In the Republic of Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was among the swimmers at the Forty Foot bathing spot. He was pictured giving a wave from the water at Sandycove.

Christmas Day swim – Dublin
Christmas Day swim – Dublin
Christmas Day swim – Dublin
Christmas Day swim – Dublin
Christmas Day swim – Dublin
Christmas Day swim – Dublin
Christmas Day swim – Dublin
Christmas Day swim – Dublin

In Northern Ireland, members of the Donaghadee Chunky Dunkers took a dip in the Co Down town’s harbour.

Christmas Day swim – Donaghadee
Christmas Day swim – Donaghadee

Across the sea, hundreds of swimmers braved the bracing waters off Porthcawl in Wales.

Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl
Christmas Day swim – Porthcawl

Meanwhile, members of the King Edward’s Bay swimmers greeted the sunrise on the east coast at North Shields during their annual dip.

Some hardy souls even managed to brave the water well into daylight.

Christmas Day swim – Whitley Bay
Christmas Day swim – Whitley Bay
Christmas Day swim – Whitley Bay
Christmas Day swim – Whitley Bay