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Organisers thrilled at successful low-key return of Burghead Boxing Day Swim

The organisers of Burghead’s much-loved Boxing Day swim say they are “overly pleased and surprised” at the success of its return after a year away.

The event, which has been running for 35 years, was called off in 2020 as significant lockdown restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus came into effect the day after Christmas.

As some restrictions are still in effect, the swim was a more low-key affair than previous years, with no major publicity to discourage large crowds from turning up.

On Tuesday, organisers posted on Facebook to say: “After liasing with various authorities, and having no direct guidance against so, we are still planning to go ahead with the 2021 Burghead Boxing Day Swim.

“We anticipate a crowd of much less than 500 people and so we aim to continue with our Swim.

“We would also ask that those attending wear a face covering and stand 1m apart from those not attending with them.”

Swimmers at Burghead. Picture by Sandy McCook

Ultimately, 20 people turned up this afternoon to leap from the Burghead harbour wall into the chilly waters of the Moray Firth, with many more coming along to watch.

Swim President Jamie Campbell said: “We were a wee bit wary, and we weren’t sure what to expect, but there was a good turnout of people, good crowds.

“I think people just wanted to not have to think about Covid for half an hour – not in terms of not following the rules. When it was the swim, it felt more normal and like it used to be.

“It felt better for us as well, and I think if we hadn’t gone ahead with the swim this year there’s a high chance it might not have went ahead again, because we would have struggled to get the support.”

A participant in today’s swim is helped out the water. Picture from Sandy McCook

Four local groups were selected to benefit from the funds raised by the event: Burghead in Bloom, Burghead Community Hall, Ball Group Burghead and Burghead Christmas Lights.

According to Mr Campbell, organisations from the village were chosen over more widely known causes because locals had “been through quite a lot the last year and a half”.

He said: “We just thought the village has supported us for 35 years and it wouldn’t be going ahead if it wasn’t for numerous people in the village and businesses as well.

“We wanted to make sure that we were supporting them when they needed it from us.”

So far, just over £3,000 has been raised by the participants – unsurprisingly less than previous years, but Mr Campbell believes the event will fully return to normal in 2022.

He added: “Next year it’ll be back open to everybody to apply, whoever wants to apply can, across Moray.

“Hopefully, with more publicity than we had this year with posters and social media, because we can advertise it we can encourage more people to come and watch or to come and jump.”

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