Sidmouth Boxing Day swim is cancelled ‘with regret’ because of Omicron fears

The Boxing Day swim in Sidmouth has been cancelled ‘with regret’ by its organisers amid ‘risks’ posed by the Omicron strain of Covid-19.

Organisers of the annual event have urged those planning a festive dip after Christmas to stay away from Sidmouth beach, because of a lack of safety cover.

Sidmouth Independent Lifeboat and the Sidmouth Lifeboat Beach Lifeguards said the groups’ volunteers are not providing any safety cover for swimmers, because of coronavirus concerns.

The decision to cancel the 2021 swim was taken on the advice of insurers, the event organisers said.

Swim organisers posted on social media: “Following recent developments with the Omnicron variant of Covid-19 we have taken advice from professionals and insurers and been advised that it would not be the responsible action to allow the event to proceed.

“Coupled with keeping volunteers safe at this time of year and the almost certain influx of visitors from throughout the country, it is with regret that we are cancelling the Boxing Day swim.

“We strongly request that swimmers do not enter the water as there will not be any safety cover.”

Sidmouth Independent Lifeboat reminded beach-goers of the risks associated with cold water, winter swimming.

The volunteer crew said its round-the-clock on-call help was unaffected by the latest coronavirus developments.

A Sidmouth Independent Lifeboat spokeswoman said: “As Sidmouth’s Boxing Day swim has been cancelled due to the ongoing risks surrounding the Covid-19 variant Omicron, Sidmouth Independent Lifeboat and the Sidmouth Lifeboat Beach Lifeguards will not be available to provide safety cover on the day.

“Sidmouth Lifeboat’s team of volunteers will remain on call as usual, 24/7 throughout the festive season. We ask anyone planning on entering the water during this time to take extra care, understand the risks involved and know how to stay safe in cold water.

“Weather and conditions can change at any time, please remember that even if you are local and experienced, the sea can still catch you out. If you’re not sure, stay on shore and stay safe this Christmas time.”

The Sidmouth Boxing Day swim was cancelled in 2020 because of Covid-19, and in 2019 through bad weather.

Christmas Day swimmers are urged to stay away from the annual festive Exmouth and Budleigh swims as the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 has forced the RNLI and the town’s volunteer lifeguards to pull planned safety patrols.

Major roadworks lasting months announced for main routes in Sidmouth

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