This is 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 happy enough so who are we to judge?!
The name of the event recalls the fact that in 1904 the celebrated author and dramatist J M Barrie presented the prize to the winning swimmer. Up to this point, the prize had been a gold medal but from that moment on the winning swimmer was presented with the J M Barrie Cup. Barrie’s association with the race continued with the author presenting the cup every year up until 1932 after which the honour fell to long serving Serpentine Club member Albert Greenbury. The Greenbury family’s association with the competition is a long one with Albert joining the club in 1908 and remaining president from 1935 to 1955. The cup is still presented to the winning swimmer by a member of the Greenbury family up to this day.
The competition is open to members of the Serpentine Swimming Club only (visitors are not allowed to turn up on the day and swim) and the organisers go to great lengths to warn the uninitiated of the potential dangers of swimming in freezing waters – so if you fancy going along do keep your clothes on!
If you do go along to cheer the competitors on, then you’ll find the event taking 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.