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The Guardian reports: Standing in his swimming trunks, Gilles looked up at the modern grey apartment buildings and trees that lined the Paris canal. He took a deep breath, then dived into the dark mass of water that had been officially banned to swimmers for decades.

“Bliss,” he said after doing 500m of front crawl, occasionally brushing past bits of green algae in the new temporary swimming zone at La Villette canal basin, where Parisians can take their first legal dip in a city waterway for a century.

“It’s symbolic,” said the 45-year-old film director, drying off. “It shows a future is possible where we can reverse pollution, where we can make things cleaner and reclaim nature. I hate the smell of bleach and chlorine in public pools. This open-air water is cloudy and you can’t see the bottom, but it makes me feel secure. I feel like I’m taking possession of nature again.”

After decades in which casual bathing in Paris’s river and canals has been banned for a variety of reasons, including fears of bacteria and sewage pollution, authorities are moving to give swimmers more access to the murky waters that were once off limits.

The temporary floating structure that has opened at La Villette as part of the summer festival, Paris Plages, allows swimmers to plunge into the water of the Canal de l’Ourcq free of charge, with lifeguards standing by. Parisians are so keen to try it that huge queues form each morning, and it has had to close by mid-afternoon on some days after reaching its daily quota of 1,000 swimmers. More…

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Chris Ayriss comments: When you see what has been done to open up access to outdoor swimmers you have to ask; why can’t we do the same in the UK? Well of course we could, but our fundimental attitude towards open water swimming would have to change. As it is, open water swimmers in England have been hung out to dry!

The Guardian reports:

  • Thunderstorm eight miles upstream caused lethal flooding of canyon
  • Fire chief: ‘They had no warning. They heard a roar and it was on top of them’

An Arizona sheriff’s office said on Sunday at least nine people had died in flash flooding and others were missing after a wall of water swept through a popular swimming hole inside Tonto National Forest.

Gila County sheriff J Adam Shepherd said crews were still searching the missing people. Earlier, Water Wheel fire and medical district fire chief Ron Sattelmaier fire chief said at least four people were dead and about a dozen more missing.

Sattelmaier said more than a hundred people were in the Cold Springs swimming hole on Saturday afternoon when a severe thunderstorm pounded down on a nearby remote area that had been burned over by a recent wildfire.

“If it’s an intense burn, it creates a glaze on the surface that just repels water,” said Darren McCollum, a meteorologist.

A woman who was hiking to the swimming hole said she saw people clinging to trees after the water rushed down a normally calm creek near the trail. More…

 

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Northamptonshire Telegraph reports: Swimmers hit by the closure of Kettering’s pool have started training in the River Nene because of a lack of water space.
It’s been closed since June 20, when a piece of paneling fell from the ceiling. With Wellingborough’s pool also closed for planned repairs and pool space elsewhere already booked, swimmers from Kettering took a novel approach to training last night (Wednesday) – by diving into the River Nene at Wadenhoe.

Kettering Swimming Club committee member Mike Annable said: “While open water swimming is popular among some of our members, the driver for this session is because we cannot find time in another pool to replace our Wednesday evening training sessions for three of our squads.”

The potential for a new pool in Kettering has been a talking point since it was first brought up at a council meeting in December.

Kettering Swimming Club does not recommend that people swim in rivers or lakes unless part of an organised event. More…

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Cambridge Independent reports: Wild swimming is a very popular sport – and one that has a long history in Cambridge.

Places for this year’s Swim the Cam sold out within days of being advertised on social media. That’s 50 people who will swim the 3.8km from Bryon’s Pool to Sheep’s Green at 11am on Saturday, July 15.

Cambridge Swim Through 1959

The event revives a competition which once attracted about 200 swimmers to the city’s river and could, like swims of the past, become an annual fixture.

“The response has been amazing,” says Jo Black, one of four volunteers organising Swim the Cam ‘17. “We’re hoping it will become a regular fixture in the open water swimming calendar.” More…

Did you know? Learning to swim in the river was once the norm for children in Cambridge. Discover more…

 

250h0078a462a314a2d3b62bb4557169ba0fThe Westmeath Independent reports: A 57-year-old American who twice survived cancer is bidding to become the first person ever to swim the length of the River Shannon. Dean Hall set off on this remarkable challenge at the northern tip of Lough Allen on June 5.

“It is taxing, but I’ve found that with marathon swimming, as with cancer recovery and life, we are much more limitless than we would ever consider. “We put limits on ourselves mostly because of fear we have, or because of what other people tell us is our limit. Once we take those limits off ourselves, and let our bodies and our minds do what they were created to do, we can do nearly anything.

Along the way Dean is raising money for an Irish charity, the Childhood Cancer Foundation, which helps to fund services for children and families affected by childhood cancer. More…

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The Mail online reports: Don’t go swimming while wearing sunscreen – unless you want cancer.

A compound used in the protective lotions turns toxic when it reacts with chlorine and ultraviolet rays, researchers found.

Avobenzone is considered the most popular sun-blocker in the world due to its ability to absorb sunlight at different wave lengths – preventing skin damage.

But Russian scientists suggest the UV-filtering compound forms cancer-causing toxins when exposed to a mixture of sun and chlorinated water.

Aldehydes, phenols and chlorinated acetyl benzenes were created in experiments simulating swimmers wearing sunscreen.

The latter two are considered extremely toxic and are strongly linked to deadly tumours and infertility, Lomonosov Moscow State University experts say.

While a study earlier this year hinted that aldehydes can raise the risk of cancer as they interfere with the body’s natural repair mechanism.

SUNSCREEN COULD MAKE MEN INFERTILE

Sunscreen can render a man infertile by disrupting human sperm cells, a Danish study found last April.

Nearly half of the ingredients commonly used to block out ultra-violet light mimic the effects of the female hormone progesterone.

This stops sperm cells functioning normally, researchers said at the time.

The sunscreen lotion can enter the blood stream by being absorbed through the skin.

Niels Skakkebaek, a professor at the University of Copenhagen said the findings were worrying.

‘These results are of concern and might explain in part why unexplained infertility is so prevalent,’ he said.

 

An item in the news from Switzerland warning swimmers that on Monday a boy of eight was bitten by a beaver whilst swimming in the Rhine at Lindli caught my eye. Later that day a woman was also bitten on the leg so badly she needed to go to hospital to have stitches.

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What advice have the authorities given? ” Beavers are only likely to become aggressive if they feel threatened or are defending their nest. Bathers are advised to avoid swimming close to the shore, and to not allow dogs to enter the water.”

What a contrast to the news this week and the tragic drownings resulting from river and lake swimming by those with little knowledge of how to stay safe.

Discover how differently the Swiss approach water safety.