BRAVE souls stripped down to their swimwear today to take the plunge into the River Wharfe at Otley.

The New Year’s Day tradition attracted a group of hardy swimmers keen to begin 2015 in daredevil fashion by diving into the chilly waters.

The 25 participants, cheered on by hundreds of spectators, swam a 25-metre stretch of the river beside Wharfemeadows Park, before clambering out.

They blew away the cobwebs of any New Year's Eve excess by taking to the water.

One of the youngest taking part was Alex Ryan, aged nine, from Croft Avenue, Otley.

The Ashfield Primary School pupil said: "This is the first time I have done this swim. It was absolutely freezing."

The oldest participant, Carole Deighton, 72, of Morley, was competing in her 20th swim in Otley and says she will also take part in the swim next year.

She said: "I found it cold but very exciting.

"It was a great way to bring in the new year. It was much milder than it usually is. I think the water temperature was about seven degrees."

But it wasn't just Otley residents who took to the water for the challenge.

Richard Bashford, 48 and son Frankie, of St Noets, Cambridgeshire, decided to take to the water after staying with friends in Otley for New Year's Eve.

Mr Bashford said: "I enjoyed it. It's the first time I have done it. The worst part of it was actually being in the water."

Event organiser Stuart Tasker, who also took part, said: "A lot of people come to watch us in the water, most come to laugh at us while we do it."