New Year’s icy dips welcome in 2014 with a bracing blast

IT IS certainly one way of getting a wake-up call in the morning after the night before.

Swimmers took the plunge yesterday in the annual New Year’s Swim at Otley as more than 100 people watched from the banks of the River Wharfe.

The January 1 event is now a firm favourite on the town’s calendar of events.

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The annual New Year’s Day swim is held in memory of Joe Town, a former life-saving teacher from Yeadon who died in 2011, and had previously organised the event for more than 25 years.

It is now known as The Joe Town Memorial Swim and raises funds in aid of The Camphill Family charity, which helps vulnerable adults.

The White Wells Dip was also held yesterday at Ilkley, when people of all ages queued up to take the plunge into freezing water.

The hardy bathers enjoyed what some described afterwards as an “invigorating and refreshing” experience in the historic spa of White Wells.

Since 1995, people have been prepared to take a New Year’s Day dip in the 8ft by 6ft stone bath, where the temperature is estimated to be seven degrees centigrade.

Mark Hunnebell, who runs and lives at the White Wells, takes a dip in the spa every day of the year.

Mr Hunnebell predicted that more than 150 people will have braved the spa this year.