Children as young as three years old were among the more than 2,500 swimmers taking part in the annual New Year Winter Swimming Lifesaving Championships yesterday. The swim, from Chung Wan (Middle Bay) to Repulse Bay - a distance of around 600 metres - was watched by thousands more at the finishing point, and parents rushed to wrap towels around shivering children as they got out of the water. The fastest was Tsang King-keung, 17, who finished in six minutes and six seconds - quicker than walking. There were 291 swimmers aged from three to 10 this year, up from less than 200 last year, according to the Hong Kong Life Saving Society. The youngest were Arthur Lam Hin-yeung, three years and one month old, and Lam Ho-hei, who was six months older. Arthur was accompanied in the water by his swimming coach. His mother Chan Yee-lin said: 'He has been learning to swim for six months. I want him to have strong and healthy lungs because air quality in Hong Kong is poor.' Timothy Lam Tse-lun swam with his son Ho-hei. It was the fourteenth time the father took part in the race. Timothy Lam said: 'I want to train him to be persistent so that he won't give up easily when he faces hurdles in life later on.' The boy mumbled that he did not want to swim next year because it was too cold. The oldest swimmer, 85-year-old Lam Kan-ho, has been taking part in the race since it was first held in 1975. The water temperature was 19 degrees Celsius, which the veteran said was not too cold. However, he said it was windy and that he was slower this year because he was getting old. His New Year wish? 'I hope everyone in Hong Kong will have a job ... and be happy.' Two disabled swimmers also completed the race. Wong Kin-ming, who suffers from polio and requires crutches to walk, said: 'Swimming in winter is good for the body ... it gives me more energy when I work.' The 55-year-old has been swimming for 45 minutes a day for the past three months. The toughest thing was getting into the cold water, he said, adding that he trained even on the coldest morning this winter, when the temperature fell to 9.4 degrees Celsius. Wong said that he had to adjust his swimming posture to compensate for his legs, which were too weak to kick. It was his seventeenth New Year swim.