THOUSANDS of ‘swimmers’ braved the chilly waters of Barry Island’s Whitmore Bay to take part in Ty Hafan’s inaugural New Year’s Day Dip.

More than 1,400 people registered to take part in the Sully-based children’s hospice event, with more than 2,000 taking part.

The dippers outnumbered the around 500 swimmers who took part in last year’s event and around 5,000 spectators basked in “tropical” air temperatures while family and friends braved the chilly sea. The attendance broke all previous records by more than 200 per cent.

Participants paid £5 to register, support the charity, and gain a commemorative medal and hot drink while others selected charities they would like to champion or just ran in the sea for fun.

The New Year’s Day Swim began as a light-hearted dare between Barry man Rob Salter and his friends, 35 years ago, but over the years has grown in fame and popularity.

This is the first year that it has been run by Ty Hafan, and the name has changed to the ‘dip’ rather than the ‘swim’.

A number of those taking part sported a variety of costumes, including Minions, super-heroes and dragons.

Lorna Tinsley, 56, of Barry, sporting her customary Dalek outfit, said: “This is our fourth year. We do it every year and we dress as Daleks because we love the Daleks. It’s fabulous and all for a good cause. We have made a donation to Ty Hafan.”

Barry resident Jolene Sparkes said: “We had the most absolutely fabulous time, myself, my 10-year-old daughter and seven-year-old niece.

“We all loved looking around recognising different fancy dress characters. The warm-up was so fun and we loved it that much we ran in twice. Next year we will definitely be doing it again, but with some swimming shoes as our little toes felt like they had been amputated.”

Associate director at Tŷ Hafan Sara Webber said: “It costs over £4million each year to run our hospice, providing round the clock specialist care 365 days a year and to deliver our broad community programmes. But only 4 four per cent of our funding comes from the government. So we simply couldn’t provide our lifeline services without the kindness and generosity of people like those taking part in the dip. We are hugely grateful to them”.

RNLI lifeboat did a drive-by and supported swimmers from the water, flanked by the Island SUP club and Whitmore Bay Surf Life Saving Club provided water safety.