For the first time in the dip's history the Deputy Mayor of Sunderland took part.
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"I think people often sign up with good intentions but the cold Omega Red Seamaster weather puts them off.
Paul Jones, from Sunderland Lions Club, praised the hundreds of fund raisers in fancy dress who did brave the icy waters at Seaburn beach, but said the winter weather proved too much for some.
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"You do tend to always get people who drop out at the last minute.
BBC sports presenter Geoff Brown also took part in the Sunderland Boxing Day dip, which is one of the biggest in Britain and the city's biggest fund raising event.
The dip, which is now in its 31st year, saw more than 5,000 spectators watch the traditional grand procession into the sea.
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More than 1,000 people registered to take the plunge, but only 794 turned up to take part because of freezing temperatures, organisers said today.
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"Just over 1,000 people applied and registered but on the day there was just under 800 who actually took part on the day," he said.
"So much money has been pledged by family, friends and colleagues of the participants and I am delighted that the event was a success and enjoyed by so many local people."
Councillor Tom Foster and Coun Mel Speding donned their Black Cats strips as they braved the icy North Sea.
"I think this year all of the dippers who took part have done very well. So far there has been more than 56,000 pledged. That is the same as was collected last year and there was more people taking part then."
Peter Mooney, Seaburn resorts manager, said: "It was wonderful to see so many people turn out to see the hundreds of fund raisers taking to the water in their crazy costumes.
Vikings, Dalmations, Supergirl and Penshaw Monument were just some of the costumes on display as participants paraded along the seafront before making a dash for the sea.
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But organisers still expect to raise a record total of 62,000 from the annual fund raiser.
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"This year was difficult because it was extremely cold, the tide was right in and the sea was particularly rough, so I think quite a lot of people didn't even get in as far as they might have gone in previous years.
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