Up to 100 swimmers will brave freezing cold waters in south London tomorrow to raise money for the homeless charity Crisis.
The annual Crisis Midwinter Swim, which began in 2012, welcomes novice and experienced swimmers alike to dip into Tooting Bec Lido, the UK’s largest freshwater pool at 100 yards long and 33 yards wide.
Each participant’s £25 entry fee covers the cost of bringing in a homeless person to access Crisis’ healthcare and counselling services, a link Crisis Community and Events Executive Kasia Manton sees as critical to the event’s success.
She said: “I think people like the idea that they’ve got something they can actually visualise: that’s where my money’s going to, that someone’s going to get to come in from the cold and get all of these amazing services.”
“They’re physically doing something rather just dropping some coins in a bucket – you’re getting something that they can feel like they’re actually helping with.”
Entrants can either swim solo or in teams of four in the relay event, each swimming one width of the pool.
The event brings together people of all skill levels and abilities in the pursuit of getting as many people off the streets as possible.
Ms Manton said: “Usually it’s young professionals but also we get a lot of cold water swimmers coming along, so we get quite a nice mix. We get some corporate swimmers that take part in teams and do the relay race.
“The majority of our swimmers will come in and be very scared of the cold water – which is the whole point.
“There’s the element of jumping into a cold lido for a couple of minutes, compared to what it would be like on the streets in the cold in the winter.”
Tomorrow’s swim represents the final of three put on by Crisis in London this winter after similar events in Brockwell Park and Hampstead Heath in December, as part of their Crisis at Christmas project.
The scheme opens to homeless people throughout the festive period, offering three meals a day, hot showers, doctors and hairdressers to cater for their health and wellbeing.
Entry is still available for the Tooting event, both on Crisis’ website and on the day.