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Just as austerity measures are forcing local authorities to reduce opening times at swimming pools across the country; the BBC reveals that nearly one in four of us here in the UK are suffering from anxiety and depression and that this suffering could be greatly reduced by a regular trip to the pool.

Although this understanding is not new (see: Swimming Could Cheer Up Britain) appreciating the benefits of swimming could help stem the exodus of swimmers from pools and bolster the efforts of those keen to return to swimming outdoors. ‘They must be mad’ is a common response from those who find it strange to see people river swimming, but perhaps the fact that that we do swim proves the contrary.

The Independent reports: According to a YouGov poll commissioned by Swim England, 1.4 million adults in the UK have found that swimming has had a positive effect on their anxiety or depression.

Furthermore, almost half a million of British adults who swim and have mental health issues have stated that swimming consistently has resulted in them making less frequent visits to a medical professional in order to discuss their mental health.

The poll found that around 3.3 million Brits over the age of 16 who have mental health issues swim at least once every two to three weeks.

When questioned about how swimming affects their mental state, 43 per cent of the swimmers stated that it makes them feel happier, 26 per cent said that it makes them feel more motivated and 15 per cent said that it makes it easier for them to cope with everyday life.

 

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Why We Swim

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Soapbox Media reports: Only those who have crossed the Ohio River — from Cincinnati to Kentucky and back — truly understand the allure of the Bill Keating, Jr. Great Ohio River Swim.

The Ohio River swimmers jump in the water at the upper end of the serpentine wall, swim across the river to Newport, then back to the boat ramp at the public landing. Total distance is approximately one half mile (or about 40 lengths in a swimming pool).

Prior to the swim, the river is closed to all motorized traffic by the U.S. Coast Guard and is enforced by local and regional law enforcement agency vessels. Flotillas of safety kayakers line the course to assist swimmers if necessary.

The velocity of the river is usually very slow this time of year, less than one mph, and the V-shaped course allows for swimmers’ downstream “drift” due to the current. Water quality is monitored prior to the event to assure safe conditions for all swimmers. The water temperature is usually in the low- to mid-80s, warm enough so that wet suits are not necessary.

Initially, the main reason behind The Swim was to demonstrate to the public that the Ohio is cleaner and safer than most people think, and to encourage participants and the general public to value and advocate for our river.

“It was always a family event,” she says, “and I could never get out of it. I cannot wait until my niece and nephews are old enough to do the Next Generation swim, maybe next summer.” More…

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The Courier Mail reports: ALL state primary students will be taught vital swimming and survival skills as part of an Australian-first program to start in schools next year, after a campaign led by The Courier-Mail.

Under the plan to make Queensland the “Water Safe State”, students at all state primary schools would now have a water safety and/or learn to swim program from 2019.

The Queensland Government will commit $3.68 million annually – an increase of $2.18 million per year – to expand swim programs, which will comply with national standards set by the Australian Water Safety Council.

Principals in remote locations will be given funding to fly in external providers including lifesavers for intensive programs.

Teachers will also be upskilled so that water safety lessons can be taught in classrooms as well as pools.

All schools will be audited as part of the program, to see where improvements need to be made.

The SOS campaign was sparked by warning from experts about a generation of kids who couldn’t swim to save themselves. More…

Comment: Children especially seek out open water when summer temperatures rise. As global warming reaches around the globe, lifesaving education is good news to parents who cannot be with their children around the clock. See: From lifesaving Education to None at all.

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The Telegraph reports: It was Sept 6 1988 and he was 11 years and 336 days old, the youngest person to ever swim the English Channel. Although Cap Gris-Nez is only 20 miles from Dover, his route had taken 32 miles, allowing for the pull of the tides.

Thirty years on, his incredible record still stands. Not that Gregory, now 41, talks about it much. He’s the record-breaking British swimmer you’ve never heard of.

That his record is unbeaten is in part due to the Channel Swimming Association banning those under 12 from swimming the channel, just weeks after his crossing.

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Gregory takes his daughters swimming, and while he admits his wife would probably have something to say about them doing a similar challenge, he is in no doubt that the world we live in today has become much more risk-averse. “Have we lost something? Probably. Are we in a better place? I don’t think so. Because that was an enormously enriching childhood for me. It’s been the foundation of what’s been a very happy life and something I will pass on to my children.”

To carry that message, Gregory has written a memoir charting the extraordinary three years of his training to triumph, called A Boy in the Water.

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The Local reports: During the heatwave, the police reported fatal swimming accidents almost daily, with 15 children under the age of 15, and 40 young people, between the ages of 16 and 24, among the victims.

The German Lifeguard Association (DLRG) – which stations 40,000 volunteer lifeguards on Germany’s beaches – has attributed the cause of deaths to a lack of swimming lessons at primary schools and the reluctance of parents to encourage their children to pass the swimming test for the bronze badge.

Refugees are at a particular risk in water, according to the DLRG, because some of them did not receive formal swimming training in their country of origin.

German lifeguards have also connected the increasing number of child drownings this summer to neglectful parents, distracted by their mobile phones rather than keeping an eye on their child’s safety, the Guardian reported.

DSV Education Officer Axel Dietrich stated that teaching children about proper swimming technique is not enough.

“People drowned this summer because they weren’t aware of the water temperatures and currents…or because they got a cramp in their leg in the middle of the lake and didn’t know what to do,” Dietrich said.

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The Independent reports: Ross Edgley, 32, has not set foot on land since he left Kent on 1 June on his 2000-mile challenge. On Tuesday he broke Benoit Lecomte’s record of 73 days spent swimming across the Atlantic ocean in 1998, his team said.

He swims for two six hour stretches a day when the tide changes and rests for the remainder of the time on his support boat.

However he estimates he still has another 60 days of swimming to go before he reaches Margate to complete the challenge. More…

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Leicester’s De Montfort University reports: The world’s fastest-growing aquatic weed has effectively removed toxins from a polluted river in the UK – a finding which has the potential to revolutionise environmental clean-ups.

The plant’s roots were able to absorb metals and pollutants such as copper, zinc, arsenic, lead and cadmium. In some cases, the plant completely removed all traces of the metal within three weeks.

The trial was carried out at Nant-Y-Fendrod, a tributary of the River Tawe near Swansea, which was a focal point of global copper production in the 19th and 20th centuries. Prof Haris said some estimates were that some seven million tonnes of copper and zinc smelting waste was abandoned on the valley floor there.

Despite efforts to remediate the land, it still contains heavy metals, and fails to meet EU water quality standards.

Prof Haris’ PhD student Jonathan Jones, a senior environment officer at Natural Resource Wales (NRW), carried out the proof of concept study by growing the water hyacinth in river water to assess metal removal efficiency; in the laboratory, in the stream itself and along the riverbank.