Peter Pan Cup

Taking the plunge

Swimming in a wetsuit is cheating

Brian Thomas, Serpentine Swimming Club

While much of London is busy unwrapping presents or preparing the turkey, members of the Serpentine Swimming Club are limbering up for their annual 100-yard (91-metre) Christmas Day race. This legendary event sees brave participants plunge into icy waters of below 4°C to compete for the ‘Peter Pan Cup’.

The origins of this race can be traced back to Christmas morning of 1864 when swimmers first met in Hyde Park to compete and the race was won by Mr H. Coulter who was awarded a gold medal. But it wasn’t until 1904 that the swim took on its current incarnation. In the same year that his fictional hero made his London stage debut, author and playwright Sir James Barrie braved the cold weather to present the first ‘Peter Pan Cup’ to the winner.

Organisers are keen to point out that, while spectators are most welcome, you must be a member of the Serpentine Swimming Club to take part. If you would like to work up an appetite in preparation for the day’s excesses, a brisk walk or run in Hyde Park could be a safer (and dryer) option.

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25 December 2018


Serpentine Lido
Hyde Park