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Archive for the ‘cold water swimming’ Category

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The Shropshire Star reports: Despite debris, rising water levels and a strong current, more than 140 swimmers took to the waters of the River Severn.

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The Severn Mile, which is now in its 10th year, attracts open water swimmers from all over the Midlands.

Aged between 17 and 78, the swarm of swimmers entered the water in waves at the Sabrina Boat pontoon on Victoria Quay, Shrewsbury at 11am August 20 2017.

Some were wearing wetsuits while others preferred to take the traditional option of swimming costumes and trucks to brave the 15° water.

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Heavy rains over the past few days had brought debris downstream and strong currents meant organisers had to abandon plans to hold a 1,500m race. Instead swimmers covered a distance of 700m.

Shadowed by canoeists, from Drummonds’ Canoes, the swimmers made their way from the Welsh Bridge to Pengwern Boat Club.

Winner of the men’s race was Les Church from Chester. Despite a fit of the shivers he said: “I do a lot of open water swimming and have swum here for the past seven years. I had a really, really good swim and I am really pleased to have won, particularly as I am now in my 40s.”

Organiser Kathryn Weaver, from Shrewsbury Masters, said that entrants needed to be confident in their own abilities and to have undertaken open water swims in the past. More…

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Having spent a fortnight touring France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland I am left with many questions about the disparity between European and British swimming culture. From my perspective as a swimmer, and as Brexit draws closer, I wonder if we were ever really part of Europe at all. Switzerland is bordered, and very much influenced by its neighbours. When it comes to swimming there is no need for an ‘Outdoor Swimming Society’ or a ‘Wild Swimming’ guide, because in every river and lake where swimming is possible, hot weather draws swimmers to the water in droves. Local authorities provide a huge number of bathing beaches, lakeside lidos, diving boards, changing rooms, BBQ facilities and even firewood with an axe to chop it up. But lifeguards are typically absent, with a swim, jump, or dive at ‘your own risk’ notice taking their place.

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In England, changing attitudes and perceived concerns have forced swimmers out of most rivers and lakes. The rules by which we live make us cautious in the extreme. Designated bathing areas at the seaside give us a sense of security. Lifeguards are seen as essential. We are constantly warned of the dangers of deep water and convinced that ‘cold water shock’ makes the risk of outdoor swimming seem to those unacquainted with its pleasures, foolhardy at best.

Basel River Swimming

Soon after landing at Basel airport my wife and I were drifting down the Rhine. The river police have earmarked specific bathing places to separate swimmers in the city from shipping. Even so, you have to navigate your way around cross-river ferries, bridge pillars and marker buoys. It’s a little like playing a slow motion game of ‘Space Invaders’, only in this version you have to avoid rather than intercept approaching targets. Swimmers and their dry bags line the riverbank; boys jump in and delight as they are swept along in the swift current. With thousands swimming every day in the cool deep fast flowing water there must be accidents surely? Surprisingly, Switzerland which encourages swimming at every opportunity, shares a similar safety record to that of the over cautious English, who feel duty bound to keep swimmers out of open water to reduce the risk of drowning and any chance of litigation. Yet if our drowning statistics are just the same as Switzerland’s, could it be that with a little education, open water swimming could be opened up in England, just as it is has always been in the rest of Europe?

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The same story unfolds wherever I travel. Take for example the Strandbad in Hard, Austria. Attracting 2,300 swimmers on a hot day, there are pontoons and springboards enticing huge numbers into the greenish waters of a huge lake. The entrance fee includes the use of lockers and changing rooms, and a beautiful chrome edged open air pool with flumes and excited children everywhere. But look for a lifeguard and you will be disappointed. In Austria the dolphin like children sport slender physiques and deep suntans in settings that echo Britain in the 1950’s. Can you imagine a paid attraction in the UK drawing such numbers with the focus on keeping the site clean and the café well staffed rather than on providing lifeguards? For Austrians the school holidays are spent by the river or lake, and swimming even for the very young is a happy and fulfilling way of life. Europe is in itself an outdoor swimming society; swimmers feel at one with the countryside, they enjoy being outdoors; cycling and swimming whenever possible. Could it be that after all these years as part of Europe we have simply not thought to look at the lessons that could be learned from those who swim, swim, swim?

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For how long will English outdoor swimmers be faced with the inevitable reaction to their activities; “They must need help, call 999”? 

Education is of cause the key, but it is not just potential swimmers that need educating, landowners and local authorities also have a lot to learn. Certainly much needs to be done if the swimming holes of the past are to be resurrected today. What I learned from my holiday is that swimming in deep cold water does not lead to certain death, but rather to a very happy life!

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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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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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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 Bulletin reports: Wild and wet: Where to find the best natural swimming spots in Belgium. Fans of wild swimming need to head out of the capital to enjoy the pleasure of cool, non-chlorinated water.

Recreation Park De Ster

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Blaarmeersen

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Robertville-les-Bains

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Grand Large, Mons
For the first time in many years, swimming will be authorised at the city’s lake this summer. Up to now bathing has been forbidden due to the danger of passing boats and barges. Extensive facilities at the site include a marina, renovated club house and indoor and outdoor pools. Alternatively, one of the best places for freshwater swimming in Hainaut province is Godarville lake at Chapelle-lez-Herlaimont, between Charleroi and La Louvière. Part of the Claire-Fontaines domain and relaxation centre, it offers a range of water sports and is a paradisiacal spot when the sun shines. Both sites are accessible by public transport.

Bloso Domein Hofstade

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SWIM SMART

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ITV News reports: “The mother of a fourteen year old who died while swimming with friends in the River Wear is backing a new water safety campaign. Cameron Gosling suffered a ‘shock reaction’ after jumping into the river near Bishop Auckland last summer. His mother Fiona has joined the campaign ‘Dying to be Cool’ which is being launched by the council and emergency services to make teenagers aware that cold water shock kills.”

Cameron’s friends had paddled in the water before swimming but he jumped straight in and his body went into shock as a result of the sudden change in temperature. Had he known of the dangers of cold water shock, we might not have lost a loving son and friend.

– Fiona, Cameron Gosling’s mother
Sadly the campaign poster focuses on staying out of rivers lakes and reservoirs rather than on the need to acclimatize. No mention is made of cold sea water.
Please see Swim Smart

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