THE annual harbour swim in Weymouth once again brought festive joy as huge crowds of people watched swimmers brave the chilly conditions.

For all the photos from the event, click on the interactive gallery above

Around 350 swimmers - wearing a variety of festive outfits - took to the water of Weymouth Harbour on Christmas Day to raise cash for good causes.

Photos by: Finnbarr Webster Photography

Crowds lined the harbourside in the drizzle on Custom House Quay and along the Cove side to watch the Christmas Day Harbour Swim, organised by Weymouth & Portland Lions Club.

Dorset Echo: Kevin Brookes, president of Weymouth & Portland Lions Club. Picture: Sam McKeownKevin Brookes, president of Weymouth & Portland Lions Club. Picture: Sam McKeown

At 11am the first swimmers - from a total of 12 sets - jumped from the Cove end of the harbour, in a bid to swim more than 70 metres across to Custom House Quay as quick as they could, where they received a participation medal from Weymouth Mayor Colin Huckle.

Organisers said extra safety precautions were put in place due to Covid. Everyone attending was asked to respect each other's space and consider social distancing whether watching or swimming. The number of swimmers in each race was cut from 50 to 30.

President of Weymouth & Portland Lions Club, Kevin Brookes said: "It's such an important event for the south Dorset area.

"Whenever it is held, the hospitality businesses around the harbour benefit from increased revenue.

"It's great for community spirit and it is such a unique event to be held on Christmas Day.

"We saw 350 tickets sold so we expect that many swimmers took part in the end.

"The event is an opportunity to raise cash, which would go into the Lions Club's pot. That money will then be distributed over the course of 2022 to good causes. Just this month the club gave £500 to foodbanks across Weymouth and Portland.

"The cash raised also goes towards helping individual cases too. Just before Christmas we were able to help a woman living in the area, who had been suffering from domestic abuse. The cash was used to help pay for carpets for her new home."

Dorset Echo: Nick Powell, 72, from Weymouth. Picture: Sam McKeownNick Powell, 72, from Weymouth. Picture: Sam McKeown

The Christmas Day Harbour Swim was also a chance for swimmers to raise funds for their chosen charities.

One swimmer, Nick Powell, 72, from Weymouth, said: "It was the first time I've done it and it was brilliant.

"I would say the worst part is the anticipation before you jump in - it's nerve-racking.

"Unfortunately, I didn't come first in my race, but I think I won the award for being longest in the water, so I'll take that.

"I'm actually raising cash for local charity Cycling Without Age - and hope to raise £500."

Cycling Without Age is a volunteer group helping vulnerable people with travel around Weymouth, Portland, and Bridport.