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The Telegraph reports: From an Edwardian swimming sensation to the women who built Waterloo Bridge, fine-art photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten is recreating some of the most dramatic episodes of the Thames’ past.

Since she took the first picture for her ongoing series Old Father Thames, Fullerton-Batten, now 48, has raked the entire length of the river – 215 miles from its source in the Cotswolds to its marshy mouth near Sheerness and Southend – for 18 images, so far, recreating ‘true but extraordinary stories’.

The time in 1814, for instance, when, during a frost fair, an elephant was led across the frozen river alongside Blackfriars Bridge. Or the vaudeville actress who swam from Putney to Blackwall (a distance of 17 miles) in 1905, wearing a bathing suit she had improvised from a pair of tights and a men’s swimsuit (it was that, more than her athletic feat, which grabbed the headlines and two years later she was arrested for wearing it in Boston, on grounds of indecency). More…

Discover where we used to swim in London: Indoors Outdoors

 

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ITV.com Reports: The 33-year-old was joined for the final kilometre of his 1,791-mile, 157-day Great British Swim around the mainland by 400 fellow swimmers in Margate on Sunday.

Edgley left the Kent town on June 1, swimming in a clockwise direction, and his arrival on the beach at 8.40am was his first time on dry land since then.

Swimming up to 12 hours a day, including through the night, he has battled strong tides and currents in cold water, storms, jellyfish and swimming into the chilly autumn.

His efforts have taken their toll on his body, including shoulder pain and wetsuit chafing, plus salt water exposure.

Edgley’s odyssey was compared from the outset to the feat of Captain Matthew Webb, who in 1875 became the first person to swim the English Channel.

But, while more than 1,900 swimmers have since made the crossing, few are likely to follow in Edgley’s wake. Fifty-seven of the swimmers who joined him on Sunday morning have swum the Channel.

Edgley was accompanied by Cornish sailor Matthew Knight, supporting from his catamaran Hecate.

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The Derry Journal Reports: A ban on swimming at Portmore Pier in Malin Head has been met with anger and calls for it to be lifted.

A sign was recently erected at the pier by Donegal County Council, which warns users of the slipway and slippery surface and issues a warning that states: ‘No Swimming.’

Portmore (Port Mor) Pier is a popular destination for both locals and holiday makers, many from Derry, who regularly swim there, particularly during the summer months.

Swimming lessons for children have also been taking place there for almost 50 years.

Ali Farren, who is from Malin Head and owns Ardmalin Caravan Park, questioned the council’s decision and lack of public consultation.

Mr Farren said people are aware of the dangers of swimming, but did not agree with an all-out ban at Malin Head pier.

He said: “A sign saying: ‘Swim at your own risk,’ would be enough. We’ve had people learning to swim here for generations. Irish Water Safety held their week here during the summer and Splash Swimming put on two extra weeks of lessons. But what insurance company is going to cover anyone now to provide swimming lessons there? I recommend to so many people that they go and swim at the pier. I can’t do that now without making myself liable. The pier is a tourism provider, locally. It’s our water park and it’s the hub of our community.”

Mr Farren pointed out how Malin Head is a “marine community.”

He said: “We depend on our young people learning to swim and to be safe. Our nearest public pools are in Derry and Letterkenny.”

In response to the ban, Donegal County Council said: “Portmore pier is one of the busiest piers in the control of Donegal County Council in terms of fishing activity. We are trying to indicate and inform the public of all the hazards they are likely to encounter at the piers. Portmore pier is not a suitable location for swimming simply due to the movement of fishing boats along the pier and that is why the sign indicates “no swimming” This refers to the pier only and not surrounding area.” Read more on this story…

See also: Could Health and Safety be Drowning Us by Accident?

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Discover attitudes in Switzerland

 

 

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The Guardian reports: A new drive to encourage private schools to share their swimming pools is being launched by the government amid concerns about the number of children who emerge from primary school unable to swim.

Fewer than half of all British children are able to swim 25 metres by the time they reach the age of 11. Schools will get a share of a £320m fund to help boost swimming lessons, he said.

While the Department for Education has not proposed any new measures to compel private schools to open their pools, Hinds said he was personally determined to “make sure our children grow up safe and water confident”. “Many independent schools are already doing this, but others can and must do more to help every child in their community,” he said.

This year’s figures from the Independent Schools Council, which represents 1,326 private schools in the UK, show that of 603 of its member schools that have pools, 304 already share them in some way with state school pupils.

Meanwhile, 72% of primary schools use public pools for swimming lessons, while 15% use their own pool and 10% use another private facility.

Julie Robinson, general secretary of the ISC, said that there was “much goodwill from schools fortunate to have facilities that may be in short supply locally”. She added that “raising awareness of partnerships helps more state schools and independent schools develop mutually beneficial programmes”.

“Headteachers who have opened up their facilities tell us it’s a win-win for the schools and the community,” said Charles Johnston, director of property for Sport England, a public body under the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. “It allows facilities to be used at times when otherwise they’d be empty.”

Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, who is responsible for sport, said: “This barely moves the dial on the pressing need to improve the health of our children, when six out of 10 are leaving primary school either overweight or obese. Read more on this story…

See also: Mass Education Saved Lives

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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.

 

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.