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Freedom to Swim!

17522835_10155205434551289_8539666495836669484_nA five-and-a-half year negotiation with British Waterways (as was) to remove their new No Swimming sign at Sparth Reservoir has at last met with success.

A change in thinking has been a long time coming but it is a sign of the times as our Island mentality is slowly being replaced by broader minds.

The dispute arose over the continued use of the reservoir by wild swimmers. British Waterways put up a “no swimming” sign at Sparth Reservoir in Marsden, Huddersfield. They said that it replaced a former sign that had gone missing, reasoning that it would be “reckless” to allow swimming at the site. “But swimmers said they have used the reservoir for decades and it is possible to enjoy the sport safely. They believe the reservoir has been used for recreational swimming since the 1940s and possibly earlier. In the future they hoped signs could be changed to allow them to swim at their own risk.” As reported by the BBC.

Attitudes in Britain differ greatly to those of our European partners. Swimming is encouraged in rivers and lakes abroad but rarley so in England.

Discover the fascinating history of outdoor swimming in Britain – read: Hung Out to Dry; Swimming and British Culture. The reasons for our prejudice towards outdoor swimming are deep-rooted, complex and pervasive. Yet surely reason will ultimately win out, especially as wild swimming continues to grow in popularity.

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The BBC reports: Students applying to one of China’s most prestigious universities have been told they must learn to swim before they graduate.

Tsinghua University, known as the Harvard of the East, has ruled that the nation’s top minds must also prove themselves in the pool.

The news made waves on Chinese social media, with some questioning the move in a country struggling with drought.

But the university said swimming was a key survival skill.

President of Tsinghua University, Qiu Yong, said the exercise was made compulsory for all students because it also improved physical fitness.

One of China’s most highly regarded institutions, Tsinghua University first made swimming a requirement in 1919, but it was later dropped due to the university’s popularity and a lack of swimming pools in Beijing.

However, under the rules announced on Monday, new students beginning in September will have to take the plunge and demonstrate that they can swim at least 50m (164ft) using any stroke.

‘Arbitrary rules’

The announcement has been hotly debated on social media, with some questioning whether it is reasonable to expect those who grew up in inland cities to learn how to swim as adults.

“What happens to students from arid places that have no seaside or rivers?” wrote Yixunsangyao.

Another commenter, Xishuoge, wrote: “Even though it is a ‘famous university’, it shouldn’t make up arbitrary rules, as such rules could snuff out talents.”

Others, such as Shin-ssi, praised the university for promoting a “necessary skill which can save lives”, adding: “It’s a good thing for the university to emphasise this.”

Those who appeared pleased with their own abilities to swim, made light of the announcement, asking if they could enrol as students at Tsinghua University.

 

Winter swimmers in the Czech Republic

Time reports: Czech Seniors Stay Young by Plunging Into Freezing Cold Rivers

Among the most hardy of all the cold water swimmers is the group of pensioners who meet twice a week, whatever the weather, throughout the year in an old railway wagon at the bank of the Labe River in Pardubice, near a section of the river where the water is less than 20 meters deep.

For these senior citizens, some of whom are in their late eighties, plunging into freezing temperatures has its benefits. “Cold water swimming is as much a challenge as it is a health strategy,” Radek Kalhous, a photographer who has been capturing candid images of the swimmers, told TIME. ” It improves heart activity, vessel elasticity and the immune system in general.”

According to Kalhouse, the pensioners who swim in the Labe are hardly ever ill. “They are brimming with energy and optimism,” he said. “Local clubs are full of friends and the community is still growing. Cold water swimming is not just sport for them. It’s their lifestyle.”

According to Kalhouse, the pensioners who swim in the Labe are hardly ever ill. “They are brimming with energy and optimism,” he said. “Local clubs are full of friends and the community is still growing. Cold water swimming is not just sport for them. It’s their lifestyle.” More…

Discover where you can swim in Prague:

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COLD WATER SWIMMING

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The Guardian reports: “Get in the water, get your shoulders under.”

A day of cold blue therapy. Where volunteer marshals lined up more than 700 competitors for 114 races at intervals timed to the second. “Get in the water, get your shoulders under,” they said briskly and everyone did, briskly. More…

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image-20161208-31364-86rhncThe Conversation Reports: Our modern distaste for river swimming is a stark constrast with a history where urban rivers provided a venue for sport, recreation and entertainment – all within easy distance of shops, offices and public transport.

Pollution has changed the face of river swimming across the world. Not that pollution in itself has put people off outdoor swimming. In the UK for instance, summertime tradition sees holidaymakers keen to paddle and swim in the sea despite pollution on many beaches. Rather, the public perception that rivers and lakes are unsafe or unclean is so intrenched that it is rarely questioned. Rather like the beguiled Emperor in Hans Christian Anderson’s: The Emperor’s New Clothes, todays would be swimmers are so convinced by what they think they know that they cannot see what is obvious to little boys.

Discover just how different attitudes are in Switzerland

The Telegraph reports:  A”nanny state” council are trying to stop Christmas bathers from having a festive dip due to health and safety concerns by taping off parts of a beach. Every year hundreds of swimmers jump in the sea on Christmas morning, but the local council want to put an end to the tradition. Brighton and Hove City Council in East Sussex announced it will take measures to try and prevent one of the city’s most famous Christmas traditions over fears swimmers will get hypothermia.

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Chris Ingall, seafront operations manager for Brighton City Council, said: “The continuing mild weather has meant that, as with last year, the seafront has been much busier than in previous winters.

“It’s been great to see so many people enjoying a stroll on the promenade and its good news for seafront businesses, but we would ask people to stay on the path or high up on the beach, especially when the sea conditions are rough.

“Sea swimming takes skill, stamina and knowledge of the physical dangers and should only be for the very experienced, using suitable wetsuits, in very calm conditions and with a friend.

“Even on a calm day sea currents, undertow or a sudden change in weather can create life threatening hazards without warning. Even experienced swimmers can get caught out.”

Compair attitudes here with those in Switzerland

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The New – Can I swim here? app…

Stuff.co.nz reports: Swimmers in New Zealand are now able to check online or via a new app to see if the beach or river they want to visit has clean swimming water.

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Regular testing at times when swimmers most often frequent bathing places, make this real-time information invaluable, setting a new standard of transparency for swimmers living in or visiting the country. More…