RECORD crowds lined Charmouth seafront on Christmas Day as hardy swimmers, many in fancy dress, took the plunge for the annual festive splash.

The now-traditional swim saw almost 1,000 people turn out to watch the barmy bathers leap into the cold and choppy waters to raise money for the RNLI.

Among the swimmers were 10 sumo wrestlers, three nuns, and a pantomime horse, with celebrity guest appearances from Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, and Top Gear's The Stig.

On hand if there were any emergencies were a team of doctors and nurses - complete with hospital bed - involving father and son Andy and Alex Butcher, Charlie Wheadon, Bob Davis and Paul Bester.

Along with around 100 other swimmers, their efforts helped collectors raise £1,400 from the beach collection alone.

The event was arranged, as always, by Royal Oak landlords, Carol and Jeff Prosser, who have watched the event grow from half a dozen swimmers in the 1970s to the local Christmas tradition it is today.

They are hopeful of topping last year's fundraising total, which reached almost £3,000.

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