Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Diving’ Category

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

Read Full Post »

The Horse and Jockey Dive - San Angelo

The Horse and Jockey!

This is a rare glimpse from America of the Horse and Jockey diving formation is a real blast from the past.

Once common in pools all over England, diving has fallen by the wayside as changing attitudes and our risk averse culture has reshaped the swimming experience. In its day (not so long ago), diving inspired young swimmers whilst entertaining the nervous.

When the divers reached the water, the jockey would lie back, diving feet first.

Read Full Post »

Beccles River Bathing Place 1905

Highlights and Early History of River Bathing at Beccles

Test your knowledge at the end!

1862 WARNING: To Bathers. All persons who are found bathing in the RIVER WAVENEY between the Smelt House and 200 yards below Beccles Bridge after 9 o’clock in the morning, will be PROSECUTED according to law.

1867 COUNCIL: Public Bathing Place suggested.
1873 Saw the purchase of the Old Granary on the banks of the river Waveney in Puddingmoor for the sum of £300. The building was to be used as a dressing room for people bathing in the river. This was the beginning of the history of organised Outdoor Swimming in Beccles. The old bathing place still much used.
1874 Council: Bathing Place should be made deeper. 200 a day used it when very warm; 100 when cooler; 50 a day now (September).
1875 Ladies to have special time for using Bathing Place.
1881 BATHING PLACE: (LETTER): Some years ago a spot about 300 yards up the river was the only recognised place for bathing, but it was hampered by a halfpenny fine to reach it, for ferrying across the river. There was difficulty about getting a right of way to the Bathing place. The Corporation decided upon making a new bathing place. They purchased propertyalongside the river, but unfortunately a bungle was made of the scheme, and the outcome was an old granary fitted up in rough and ready style, and a limited quantity of enclosed water. This was all very well for youngsters learning to swim, but the grand mistake was in ignoring the large number of persons who can swim, and to whom it is no pleasure to be contained to a small breadth of filthy water. The old bathing place is still used by many who desire to enjoy a wholesome bathe. A better spot could not be found for miles around. Until within the last two or three years the ground shelved gradually down to the middle of the river, which is deep, free from weeds, and suitable in every respect for the swimmer. Now holes have been dredged in the shallow side, and it is positively dangerous. Only the other morning a lad, trying to swim, got into one of these holes and was nearly drowned.
1894 108 yards of the river frontage was cordoned off and enclosed with and post and plank fence. The planking was fixed to stout posts, driven firmly into the bed of the river, a gap below the fence allowed the flow to change the depth of water. Cubicles were built for changing rooms: one set for ladies and one for the gentlemen separated by a large communal changing room for youth and boys. For girls there were six or eight wooden huts.
1895 NEW BATHING PLACE used by 30,000 bathers this Summer. Never before has there been such a run on the place as a result of the long and hot summer.
River Bathing Place Beccles
 1922 The Town Council agree to allot separate hours to schools for children’s swimming lessons. The Council also agreed to the installation of 3 spring boards with the centre one to be made rigid (no longer in existence). 1930s The entry fee was 2d for Adults and 1d for children.

1959 Construction of a new Bathing Place adjacent to the old one began and was completed in the same year. The result is what remains today; Beccles Outdoor Swimming Pool.

Diving Boards at Beccles Bathing Place

1975 Saw the installation of Heating for the Pool.

The Swimming Pool at Beccles

1976 “Beccles Swimming Pool is one of the town’s most popular summer sporting attractions providing not only a pleasant riverside leisure spot for local people and holiday visitors alike but also valuable service as a place where people can learn to swim..” For more information click here…

 

Questions to consider…

When the Romans occupied Britain they built bathing places countrywide. Why did these close, and why was bathing and swimming then discouraged for centuries? (see Hung Out to Dry p 11, 14-16, 41-43)

In 1862 why was it OK to bathe in the river before 9.00 am, but why did you face prosecuted for bathing after 9.00? (see Hung Out to Dry p 7, 96)

Why fence off the river for bathers? (see Hung Out to Dry p 23-24, 119)

Why build a Lido when river bathing was so popular? (see Hung Out to Dry p 129)

Why since then have Lidos closed one after another, and why do those that remain struggle to keep their heads above water? (see Hung Out to Dry p 33-34)

Enjoy find the answers here…

Read Full Post »

This is the question I asked and I believe I have found the answer in Switzerland…

 

 

Read Full Post »

River Swimming in Zurich

Upper Letten River Pool

Having spent a week in Switzerland, I’m staggered at the difference in attitude towards swimming in Europe compared to attitudes here in England. Some might argue that we are European and on paper that’s  true yet the prejudice shown towards swimmers here is in marked contrast to our European cousins.

Diving Boards Upper Letten River Pool

Dive into the Letten Zürich

Having said this you can’t swim just anywhere in Switzerland, warnings are given when rivers are too high as well as about dangers presented by boats and shipping, but unlike England, swimmers aren’t kept out of the water needlessly.

???????????????????????????????

For example you can swim for free in the Limmat as it flows through Zürich. As you can see from the picture, river swimming is incredibly popular. Two life guards were on hand to make sure everyone was OK, especially when swimming near the bathing structures. I was delighted to find the fast flowing river refreshingly cool and that the extensive swimming area even includes diving boards!

Fore more details please click here

Read Full Post »

Heddon Court Bathing Place, 1912

A rare glimpse of Heddon Court bathing place provided for wild swimmers in years gone by.

In an effort to preserve modesty, encourage cleanliness and educate swimmers, bathing places like this were built across the country. facility’s were meager; a bathing attendant, a changing hut (offering shelter to clothing in poor weather), a diving run and some steps attracted swimmers from miles arround. As you can see we don’t need much to enjoy open water. One essential sadly lacking today is the liberty to swim! Visit Europe and you will find outdoor swimming encouraged and enjoyed to the benefit of all. Why are we so prejudice against river and lake swimmers in England?

Read Full Post »

Stamford Meadows Bathing Place

Up and down the country, bathing places like this proved very popular, but you may wonder: why were they built and why have they closed?

British culture is full of interesting eccentricity’s and there is no simple answer. In Hung Out to Dry Swimming and British Culture I attempt to explain some of the major influences that led us to the heyday of river, lake and sea bathing and then on to the prejudice shown towards outdoor bathers today. I have included an exert below:

The Swimming of Witches

It was asserted by many ecclesiastics and scientists that witches and wizards, through their communion with the Devil, became like him, lighter than air and would therefore not sink if thrown into water.[1] In the light of this knowledge, we can well imagine the scene as a child falls into a river and disappears beneath the surface. Anguish and grief on the part of the parents might well turn into despair should the child struggle to remain afloat, for such would be evidence of her previously undetected association with witchcraft! King James I’s ruling in the early 17th century recommended that the ‘ordeal’ (the swimming of witches) should continue to be used in certain circumstances, on the grounds that water would reject witches, because such creatures had ‘shaken off the sacred water of baptism’ So we can see that even at this late date, swimming was still seen by many as an unwholesome exercise.[2]

The skill of swimming, or even remaining afloat in the rivers of England at some periods in history was certainly nothing to be proud of. If you bathed you were seen as a degenerate, with filthy morals, and if you swam you became like the Devil himself! For many years, paintings that depicted the baby Jesus enjoying his first bath were quite popular. In the mid 1500s however, a meeting of priests resulted in such pictures being banned. The reasoning being that Jesus was perceived as so pure that bathing would be quite unnecessary. These ideas lasted a long time. Prior to the First World War, very little accommodation was made in London’s hotels for bathing; in fact Park Lane was the first hotel to provide a bathroom for every bedchamber[3] In the USA, the White House had its first bathroom installed in 1851. It seems then that the adage: ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ was far from the minds of those directing the faith of Christians here in England and elsewhere throughout most of its history.[4]

As bathing came back into fashion bathing places and bath houses sprang up for all  to enjoy.

Stamford Baths

Also in Stamford built in 1823 opposite the meadows, the Bath House which probably had a plunge pool a changing room and accommodation for the baths attendant remained open until the 60’s I am told.

River and Lake bathing fell from popularity through a combination of three factors.

1) The mass construction of Lido’s.

2) The promotion of sunbathing for health.

3) Low priced continental travel. (See  Chapter 5: Lido’s Open Rivers Close)

It is Ironic that a nation once so obsessed with river, lake and sea bathing now struggles with the concept of allowing the general public the privilege of a refreshing dip in natural waters on a sunny day. What is going on at Rutland Water just a few miles outside Stamford perfectly illustrates the dilemma facing us in this 21st century.

Swim with care!

[1] Suffolk produced a high proportion of witches in comparison to the rest of the country. Locally grown rye grass became diseased, infected by the fungus ergot (Claviceps Purpurea). When made into bread and ingested in sufficient quantity it caused ergotism, resulting in hallucinations similar to those induced by LSD, along with many other physical effects including tremors and a sensation of prickling as though ants were crawling on the skin. It was assumed that sufferers had been bewitched and many innocent women were condemned as a result of ignorance regarding the true cause.

[2] Daemonologie 1597 (the last woman was burned to death as a witch in 1722).

[3] News of the World: July 17th 1938.

[4] During the 18th and 19th Centuries, the unhygienic conditions in Europe and the United States caused missionaries to begin preaching a ‘doctrine of cleanliness.’ Filth was equated with sin, whereas cleanliness brought one closer to God. The Salvation Army went onto preach: ‘Soap, Soup and Salvation.’

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »