25 Dec 2013

Fancy a ‘perishing’ swim? (How we did it back then)

Covering the news on Christmas Day is always challenging – and was equally so in 1965 when ITN sent their roving reporter John Shearer to Hyde Park to interview the regular Serpentine race swimmers.

Unless something very exciting happens it can be hard to fill those short festive news bulletins. On Christmas Day 1965, someone at ITN thought it would be a good idea to send reporter John Shearer to Hyde Park to interview those hardy souls who undertake the annual race in the Serpentine.

After a quick interview with one man and his dog (and his son Martin) about the curative effect of the cold swim on a hangover, Shearer seems to have decided to join them.

A brave man, cheered on (“Come on,John!”) by an off-screen and (no doubt properly clothed) ITN crew, Shearer emerges in his trunks looking somewhat shocked from the ‘perishing’ water.

The report ends with Shearer draped in a towel, interviewing a sprightly 74 year old, a winner of the race in 1940, a regular at the Serpentine who was enjoying his 45th Christmas swim.

By Ian Searcey