3:31pm Tuesday 1st January 2013
IT was a fresh start to 2013 for hundreds of New Year's revellers who took to the water for an annual fancy dress dip.
More than 300 swimmers took a bracing splash in the Solent to raise hundreds of pounds for dozens of charities- and to wash away their hangovers.
Even the Mayor of Gosport councillor Richard Dickson stripped down to his underpants to join other brave men, women and children for the icy plunge in Gosport's Stokes Bay.
Watched by thousands of spectators on the shore the fancy-dress clad daredevils dippers dunked and dived their way into the eight degree waters for the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service's (GAFIRS) popular annual event.
The cheering crowds lining the pebble beach were treated to a rescue demonstration by the lifeboat station's crew and HM Coastguard helicopter.
The plucky swimmers who were clad in an array of bizarre outfits- from penguin outfits, to pirates and skimpy thongs- then waited for 12pm until they dashed into the water from the station's slipway.
Gary Bohannan, a 27-year-old marine engineer in the Royal Navy, said it was the 10th year he had taken the plunge.
He said: “It is a bit on the cold side but it is the best way to start the New Year- and get rid of any hangovers! It is absolutely freezing in there.”
The GAFIRS New Year dip first began in the early 1970s and has since attracted more and more hardy swimmers.
Mike Allen, vice chairman of GAFIRS, said the event was a success. He said: “We've been gifted with a beautiful day and the turnout has been phenomenal.
“A lot of people take part to raise money for GAFIRS and other charities too which means we are doing our bit for the community but it is nice to open up the station and show the public what we do.”
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