156th Annual Christmas Morning Race for the 'Peter Pan Cup'
Whilst all across London, children are eagerly waiting to unwrap their presents, the members of the “Serpentine Swimming Club” who have met in London’s Hyde Park, winter and summer since 1864 are preparing, some decked out in Santa hats, to swim their traditional 100 yards annual Christmas day swim.
The Serpentine Swimming Club is one of the oldest swimming clubs in the country, and the first race was won by H.Coulter. He streaked home to win a gold medal, which became customary to award to the winner. This changed in 1904 when Sir James Barrie, the novelist, immortalised the race by presenting the first “Peter Pan Cup”; like the boy that never grew up, the race has taken on a similarly legendary appeal.
The race is only open to members and is raced on a handicap system. For anyone foolish enough to plunge into the icy Serpentine waters, with its temperature usually below 40 oF (4 oC) degrees in the winter, without acclimatisation over several months, the shock could prove fatal! As one New Year’s reveller found to his cost.
To compete in the Peter Pan Christmas Day Race you must have competed in the entire Winter Series. Note: You cannot join the swimming club on the day and swim in the race.
The race starts at 09.00 on the 25 December, on the south bank of the lake close to the Serpentine Café (the old pavilion). Spectators are most welcome, but are advised to wrap up warm.
All the swimmers at the “Serps” wish you a very merry Christmas.