There are people crazy enough to go outdoor swimming on Christmas morning in several places around the UK. There are also swims on Boxing Day and New Year's Day in quite a few places, including the sea which, even in a mild winter such as we're having this year, must be toe-curlingly cold.
Brockwell Lido in south London has run a Christmas morning swim for the last 2 years and this year I went along to take photos for Demotix. The water was at 10 centigrade, a big improvement on the bone-chilling 4 centigrade it was last year. Even so, many people only managed a couple of lengths before heading for the showers or the sauna. Clearly some people are regular cold-water swimmers though, because many did several lengths and some even managed to look relaxed while doing it. I particularly liked the elegant lady with the tinsel in her hair -- she seemed to have some self-contained sense of enjoyment as she swan length after length.
In terms of press photos, what I was looking for were photos with people in costume or people grimacing in the cold water. Sure enough, there were a few Santa hats around and inevitably some face-pulling as people went into the lido. It was a grey morning, though it brightened a bit as the morning went on. in fact, that's quite good for photos; no problems of harsh shadows or blown highlights. I shot at 800 ISO to give myself plenty of depth of field even when using a quite fast exposure -- about 1/250th of a second -- to capture splashes of water and to avoid camera shake when using a long lens.
If anyone who swam there would like to order a print of their photo, they can do so here.
Anna Watson: photographer, parent, juggler