The Peter Pan Cup in Hyde Park 2013

For many Christmas Day means eagerly unwrapping your presents and preparing a huge family dinner but if you’re a keen swimmer it’s competition time.

Members of the Serpentine Swimming Club will be plunging themselves in glacial conditions throughout the year to prepare to swim their traditional 100-yard (91-metre) Christmas Day race.

An event truly laced with history has seen the annual swimming race run since 1864 when entrants met for the first time to compete on Christmas morning.

Novelist JM Barrie, famous for his children’s work Peter Pan, donated the first ever Peter Pan Cup for the event in 1904 – the same year the play of his book went on the London stage.

The Serpentine Swimming Club is one of the oldest clubs in the country and holds races every Saturday morning throughout the year. The Peter Pan Cup is only open to members of the club who have qualified during the season.

The race is held in the icy waters of the beautiful Serpentine River, which divides Hyde Park down the middle. The temperature is usually close to zero in the winter so swimmers have to learn to acclimatise themselves to the freezing dip ahead of them.

The hardy swimmers start their race at 9am on December 25 on the south bank of the lake close to the Serpentine Café and spectators are welcome although advised to wrap up warm! The nearest tube stations are Knightsbridge and Lancaster Gate.

The Peter Pan Cup is not just for swimming fans as it provides great entertainment for all the family who can later walk along the Serpentine and visit the rest of Hyde Park.

Why not postpone delving into your stocking and opening your presents until later and visit the brave competitors trying not to shiver at this traditional festive London event.

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