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Archive for the ‘Lake Swimming’ Category

Culture clash! Click the image below and see for yourself the contrast between British and Swiss culture when it comes to outdoor swimming.

Wild Swimming Gunton Switzerland

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Swim Safe for Children in open water

The Manchester Evening News reports: Kids can once again join in FREE open water swim safety sessions at Salford Quays this summer.

Around 1,000 children benefited from the classes last summer and this year even more spaces are available.

There’ll be 1,400 free one-hour sessions up for grabs for kids aged seven to 14 – including families, friends and school groups.

And each child that takes part gets a T-shirt, a cap and a keyring to take home too.

It’s all part of Salford Community Leisure’s Swim Safe campaign and classes are held at the Helly Hansen Watersports Centre in Salford Quays between July 30 and August 31. More…

Visit the hung out to dry website

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Readers Digest reports: There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned swimming hole to beat the heat this summer. Here’s where to find the best spots all across the country.

Madison Blue Spring, Florida

This naturally-fed spring lives up to its name: The water is crystal blue and oh-so-inviting. Now a state park, the 25-foot deep swimming hole is located inside a lovely woodland next to the Withlacoochee River in northern Florida. If you’re brave, you can even cave dive into the hole’s underwater caverns.

Discover more…

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Artist's impression of the new lake

Lewisham’s largest green space, Beckenham Place Park, has been awarded £440,000 from Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. The award is part of the mayor of London’s push to make London the world’s first National Park City.

The funding will be used to:

  • plant thousands of new trees
  • support the restoration of the park’s Georgian lake, which will create a new wildlife habitat and be used for open water swimming.

Read more…

Discover the history of British Swimming

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The National reports: Robert Hamilton’s dream of an open water regulator was torpedoed by near unanimous opposition from swimmers and swimming organisations, who said they were unwanted, unnecessary and overly commercial.

Unlike in England and Wales, where laws about open swimming are unclear, in Scotland, swimmers have a right to swim freely in open spaces.

Hamilton, along with commercial pilot Stewart Griffiths and swimmer Phia Steyn, had announced plans to establish the Scottish Open Water Swimming Association (SOWSA) to “promote and grow safe open water swimming within Scotland through co-operation between relevant stakeholders and partners in the country”.

Their proposal was to gather “open water swimmers, coaches, event organisers, boat pilots, health and safety professionals, landowners, local and national tourism bodies and relevant heritage and conservation bodies into one body with the aim of promoting and growing safe open water swimming in Scotland”.

But across the country, fans of outdoor aquatics were furious at what they saw as an attempt to limit access to lochs and water, potentially resulting in swimmers being forced to cough up cash for a dip.

There was opposition too from the British Long Distance Swimming Society (BLDSA) and the Outdoor Swimming Society (OSS),

In response to a consultation set up by Hamilton’s group, OSS said: “The establishment of a self-appointed regulatory body with power over all swimming events, venues and pilots in Scotland would create a commercial monopoly that would stifle, restrict and standardise the market, and restrict rather than improve swimming in Scotland.”

A joint response to the consultation from 28 different prominent swimmers complained they had not been made aware of the consultation, and were uncomfortable with a charity representing open water swimmers being proposed by “three people who are known to be closely involved in one of the most heavily advertised commercial companies running open water events and providing services to open water swimmers in Scotland”.

Discover why wild swimmers have faced restriction in England?

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Rutland Water Bathing Beach was full to overflowing yesterday, as bank holiday crowds flocked to enjoy the summer sunshine. Cars queued  on the main road for up to thirty minutes just to enter the park! Toilet and cafe facilities were stretched beyond capacity yet the holiday atmosphere made for a relaxed and very enjoyable day.

Most remarkable is the harmonious mix of nationality’s enjoying the beach. People from around the world  came together to share the joy of outdoor swimming and sandcastle making in an atmosphere of bank holiday companionship.

Is it time Rutland Water opened a second beach? It’s certainly time for more beaches across the country. When it comes to outdoor swimming beaches the message is clear: Build It and they will come!

 

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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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