AN annual New Year's Day event which sees hundreds take a cold dip in Lyme Regis returned with what organisers believe to be their biggest-ever turnout.

Lyme Lunge is hosted every New Year's Day on Lyme Regis Front Beach and sees people brace the cold water dressed in hilarious costumes.

The annual Lyme Lunge and Lyme Regis Duck race, which were created by Lyme Regis Rotary Club, attracted participants from all over the UK.

The day began with the Duck Race at 12pm, which saw hundreds of rubber ducks race down the River Lim with one duck emerging victorious.

Then at 1pm swimmers ran into the sea for an ice-cold dip.

The event began 14 years ago, in which Rotary spokesperson Peter Fortnam said had just 20 people taking part, with organisers estimating around 1,200 may have taken the dip this year.

He said: “Last year we had 800 people and this year we have done a rough estimate but we reckon possibly 1200.

“We think this is now one of the largest events of this kind in the West Country. It’s certainly the largest turnout I have ever witnessed.

“It’s only a small club, Lyme Regis Rotary has 18 members only, but with the help of local people and communities, we are able to get a good turnout for helpers.

“It’s New Year’s Day, it is at 1pm so people have time to recover from the night before and it is Lyme Regis. The setting is fantastic and I think people love the town.

“It does so much for local businesses, we think around three or four thousand people which is good for the local community at a quiet time of the year.

“The effort everyone has put into all of their costumes is amazing, people have come from all around the country, I have spoken to people who have come down from Wales, The Midlands, London who just heard about it."

The Rotary Club hope to raise £5,000 for their charities - The Alzheimer's Society and Asthma+ Lung UK.

Among the hundreds of swimmers, Darren, Tina, Mark, Michelle, Will and Alicia travelled from London and The Midlands for a holiday in Lyme Regis to take part in the annual dip.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Tina, Darren, Mark, Michelle, Will and Alicia from The Midlands and London took part in the swimTina, Darren, Mark, Michelle, Will and Alicia from The Midlands and London took part in the swim (Image: Tom Lawrence)

Alicia said: “It was very cold but I’m glad I did it.

“I think it could have been colder," said Darren, "it was cold enough for us from the Midlands who don’t live anywhere near the sea.

“We would definitely do it again."

Justin, 52, from Lyme Regis also took part in the plunge, donning a dinosaur suit for his Jurassic Coast dip.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Justin the dinosaur also took part in the Jurassic Coast dipJustin the dinosaur also took part in the Jurassic Coast dip (Image: Tom Lawrence)

Justin said: “I go in the sea all through the summer, it was cold to begin with though.

“I couldn’t go beyond waste-depth because otherwise the costume would get ruined and I have a battery pack in here for the lights so that probably would have short-circuited as well.

“It was quite good fun and it was cosier in here than going in my speedos."

Ilminster family Joe, TJ, Ollie and Jess travelled down for the day to take part in the annual swim alongside dogs Nala and Otter

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Joe, TJ, Ollie, Jess and dogs Nala and Otter took part in the swimJoe, TJ, Ollie, Jess and dogs Nala and Otter took part in the swim (Image: Tom Lawrence)

Jess said: “We come down every year to do it, it never gets any warmer though.

“The dogs came with us as well and they loved it."

Before the event, it was reported that sewage had been spilled into the sea off Lyme Regis.

Surfers Against Sewage track sewage overflows which have occurred in the past 48 hours and reported that sewage was spilled at Lyme Regis Beach.

A spokesperson for Lyme Regis Rotary Club said: "We have seen no evidence of pollution and there were no warnings given to us by any of the authorities.

"If there was a sewage overflow, it would come out where the river meets the sea and then travel easterly, which is away from the sandy beach where we held the lunge."