River and lake swimming is recognised as a basic human right around the world and until the recent past it was very much encouraged here in the U.K.
British culture cast a shadow over outdoor swimmers for a variety of reasons, including morality and public safety. As swimmers have become accustomed to wearing clothing when they take to the water moral concerns have diminished, yet despite improved water quality in urban areas we are lagging behind Europe and America in returning swimmers to open waters.
Portland Oregon is a city much the same size as Leicester, England. Until a couple of years ago, it would have seemed a ridiculous idea to suggest building three bathing beaches on the river: Regular sewage overflows had Portlanders viewing the Willamette River as a giant septic tank. But after the massive sewage upgrade engendered by the 2011 completion of the $1.4 billion Big Pipe project, Levenson wants you to know that it’s safe to go back in the water.
Since 2010, the Popina Swimwear co-owner has organized an annual Willamette River flotilla of kitschy inflatables called the Big Float; this year, he helped organize a world-record 620 people holding hands on inner tubes. And now he’s building three public-access beaches in the center of Portland. WW sat down with Levenson to ask how he wants to change the way Portland thinks about its river. more…
Sensible signs and sensible attitudes! Can we learn a lesson from the other side of the pond?
Leicester never had pollution concerns on the scale of those mentioned above but swimming is sadly still off the agenda in the U.K.s first and foremost environment city.