Here’s one for the brave or the foolhardy among you. This annual Christmas day swim pits man against the elements as members of the Serpentine Swimming Club take to the frequently freezing waters of Hampstead to compete in the intriguingly named Peter Pan Cup. What inspires this act of seeming lunacy is anyone’s guess but the regulars seem to enjoy it so who are we to judge?!
The name of the event references the fact that in 1904 the celebrated author and dramatist J M Barrie presented the cup to the winning swimmer. Up until that point the prize had been a gold medal, but from that moment on, swimmers competed for the J M Barrie Cup.
Barrie continued to present the trophy to the winning swimmer until 1932 after which the honour fell to long serving Serpentine Club member Albert Greenbury. The keen swimmer’s association with the competition was a long one and proud one, with Albert joining the group in 1908 and fufilling the role of president from 1935 to 1955. The trophy is still presented by a member of the Greenbury family right up until the present day.
The JM Barrie Cup is open to members of the Serpentine Swimming Club only (visitors can watch but cannot take part) and the organisers go to great lengths to warn the uninitiated of the potential dangers of swimming in freezing waters – so you can’t say you haven’t been warned!
For those of you who are thinking of going along to watch the event, the action takes place near the Lido Café on the South side of the lake. For more information about the Peter Pan Cup, please click here. For more information about outdoor events in London, please click here.