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Archive for the ‘lifesaving’ Category

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Glasgow Live reports: We chart the evolution of swimming from the River Clyde to the public and private baths that sprung up across the city.

In the 18th century, long before the appearance of swimming baths in the city, swimming as a leisure pursuit was practiced by plenty of Glaswegians in the most obvious place – the River Clyde.

Its popularity among the working classes was down to the easy access afforded to the river, alongside the obvious fact that is was both an activity without cost and killed two birds with one stone in that it was both refreshing and a way to ensure personal cleanliness.

Another reason for success of informal river swimming in the city was the formation of the Glasgow Humane Society in 1790 (the oldest continuing lifeboat service in the UK) – which helped to bring down the number of drownings that were occurring.

The construction of a boat house and a room with life saving equipment reduced the risks involved in taking to the Clyde along with it, as well as the introduction of a life saving officer working out of the boat house and rewards for people who helped people who had gotten into difficulty on the river.

But with fatalities continuing the Council decided to take it upon themselves to build facilities at the river to try and ensure people would bathe at the same (safe)  location.

Not that it mattered much post 1850 – as the increase in river traffic and the move by industries to secure locations next to the Clyde, alongside the polluting of the river, practically put a halt to the popular Glasgow pasttime.

While the Council also passed a law prohibiting river bathing in certain (dangerous) areas and used local police to strictly enforce a rule limiting the amount of flesh you could display as you took a dip.

Things began to change with the opening of an opening air facility in Alexandra park in Dennistoun in 1877 form the summer months and an increase in national (and local) concern for general public health.

Prior to that, one of the first indoor swimming and bathing facilities for the public to use was situated up in the Blythswood area from which Bath Street gets its name.

Constructed by businessman William Harley (who made his money in the cotton trade), the lavish setup and social facilities attempted to attract the upper echelons of Glasgow society.

But it struggled to do so in a time where physical exercise wasn’t regarded as necessary (especially in a 12 hour, six day a week industrial working day) and where few people could swim – coupled with the hard fact that Glaswegians loved a ‘bevvy’ and a bet couldn’t do either in the confines of the swimming pool.

But with renewed interest in swimming in the 1870s into the 20th century, ten indoor swimming pools were constructed in the city (five public and five private), such as North Woodside Pool in 1882 – the oldest public pool in operation today.

Private baths such as the still-standing Arlington Baths proved popular given that the upper levels of society had begun to enjoy making trips to seaside resorts outside of the city on the West Coast and the fact that they offered swimming lessons to members.

Figures show that in 1900, male Glaswegians made 475,000 trips to public swimming pools, with that figure rising to over 700,000 by 1914. Compare that to 30,000 females visiting public baths in 1900 increasing to 100,000 in 1914.

A by-product of the increase in swimming was the rise in popularity in Glasgow of competitive swimming both in participating and as a spectator. With clubs springing up across the city – numbering 109 in 1914.

Cut to today and with Glaswegians more keen on staying fit and active than ever before, we remain pretty much spoilt for choice with 12 public swimming pools to choose from at sites such as Scotstoun, The Gorbals, Tollcross and Maryhill, as well as a handful of private baths.

Enough to ensure both that, like in years gone by, residents are never too far away from their nearest pool and that our love affair with going for a wee dip remains as strong as ever – although doing so in the River Clyde is well and truly a thing of the past!

Discover swimming history in your region…

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these children have to travel by plane to get to their swimming lessons

The Irish News reports: Three children have to take a flight from a remote Scottish island so they can learn to swim.

Freyja Parnaby, six, Grace Parnaby, nine, and Lewis Wright-Stanners, nine, regularly travel from the Fair Isle to Shetland for their lessons.

Each time they face the potential that their flight home may be cancelled due to adverse weather, leaving them stranded on the mainland.

The children, from Fair Isle Primary School, take the 25-minute flight with their head teacher Ruth Stout, funded by the education department.

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Fair Isle – home to 60 people – is the most geographically remote inhabited island in the United Kingdom.

 

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Channel News Asia reports: After nearly half a century navigating Bangladesh’s thousands of kilometres of rivers, the country’s most celebrated swimmer has hung up his trunks – but not before one final, arduous paddle upstream.

Kshitindra Baisya, 67, plans to spend his retirement on dry land inspiring younger generations to embrace the water in a country criss-crossed by huge rivers but where few swim.

“I didn’t have much idea about the beauty of this country until I swam dozens of its rivers,” Baisya told AFP.

A veteran of Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war against Pakistan, Baisya taught himself to swim at 18 and before long was paddling marathon distances along murky channels.

A decade later, the father-of-two earned some notoriety when he swam 74km of India’s Bhagirathi river.

He opts for a methodical breaststroke, head above water, rather than the freestyle preferred by purists.

“It helps preserve energy,” he told AFP as he stretched before a dip in a Dhaka pond recently.

Baisya has not broken any speed records – but his self-taught technique has allowed him to cover vast distances solo during a career unrivalled in Bangladesh.

“I am addicted to swimming. Everyday, I swim three to four hours,” he said.

Always eschewing the pool, Baisya prefers to swim along Bangladesh’s lengthy river networks – more than 700 channels draining south into the mighty Bay of Bengal.

He has never strayed from a winning formula of yoga, basic exercise and a humble diet complemented with dates and bananas for energy.

“DARING ATTEMPT”

But as he approached 70, the veteran swimmer knew it was time to call it a day – but not before one last triumph.

Baisya had always wanted to swim the Bhugai, Kangsha and Maghra rivers in Bangladesh’s north – uninterrupted and in one long slog.

He had a crack in 2017 but fell short, before returning to try again one last time in September.

Tailed by a support canoe and fans lining the riverbanks shouting his name, Baisya swam 185km in an unbroken 61-hour marathon – a possible record for someone of his age, organisers said.

Apart from the sheer distance – and fighting fatigue as he swam through two consecutive days and nights – Baisya had to negotiate polluted stretches of river that irritated his skin.

“It was a difficult task as the water was almost stagnant due to a lack of monsoon rains. On top of that, parts of these rivers were polluted, with garbage floating around,” he said.

On Sep 5, at around 8pm (1400 GMT), Baisya crossed the finishing line with thousands cheering him on.

He was taken to hospital for health checks but was declared fighting fit – allowing organisers to breathe a sigh of relief.

“We were tense,” said Aditi Bhusan, one of those monitoring the epic swim.

“He was quite old to make such a daring attempt. But he was very stubborn, and mentally strong.”

Organisers said Baisya had become the oldest swimmer on record to cross such a distance – further even than Diana Nyad, an American who in 2013 crossed 165.7km of the Florida Straits at the age of 64. They are seeking to get this record confirmed.

He has attracted attention overseas, with the World Open Water Swimming Association naming Baisya a candidate for their ‘performance of the year’ award.

Baisya was a “worthy nominee” for “pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the open water at an advanced age”, the California-based association said.

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LEAVING A LEGACY

His swansong done and dusted, Baisya has turned his attention to another lifelong pursuit – getting young Bangladeshis into the water.

It is no easy feat in a country where few children can swim and 18,000 drown every year – nearly 50 a day on average.

The dangers are part of everyday life in Bangladesh, a delta nation where around a quarter of the 160 million population live by the sea.

But Baisya hopes his determination and love of the water will inspire others to take the plunge.

“I truly hope young swimmers will be motivated by watching what I do at this age,” he said.

Visit the Hung Out to Dry website

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silhouette of girl running on the seashore during golden hour

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

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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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swim-safe

Belfast Live reports: A programme which aims to teach kids how to stay safe in open water is hosting free swimming lessons in Northern Ireland this summer.

Swim Safe, is coming to NI for the first time this summer to host free hour-long sessions for 7–14 year olds run by qualified swimming teachers and RNLI beach lifeguards, supported by a team of trained volunteers.

The sessions are designed to be practical, interactive, educational and fun for children who can swim at least 25 metres.

Every child that participates will receive 60 minutes of tuition, with the time split between land-based safety with a lifeguard and in-water tuition with a swimming teacher.

Wetsuits, swimming hats and a free goody bag with T-shirt are all provided.

RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Jenny Thompson said: “Many children love swimming outdoors – but swimming in the sea, rivers and lakes is different to swimming in a pool and can often be much more challenging.

“The Swim Safe programme gives children the opportunity to learn about keeping safe when swimming outdoors and knowing what to do if they get into trouble.”

Visit the SwimSafe website to book your place and for more information.

Chris Ayriss comments: What a contrast this piratical program is to the warnings broadcast in 2014 “Don’t go in!”

 

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The BBC reports: Students applying to one of China’s most prestigious universities have been told they must learn to swim before they graduate.

Tsinghua University, known as the Harvard of the East, has ruled that the nation’s top minds must also prove themselves in the pool.

The news made waves on Chinese social media, with some questioning the move in a country struggling with drought.

But the university said swimming was a key survival skill.

President of Tsinghua University, Qiu Yong, said the exercise was made compulsory for all students because it also improved physical fitness.

One of China’s most highly regarded institutions, Tsinghua University first made swimming a requirement in 1919, but it was later dropped due to the university’s popularity and a lack of swimming pools in Beijing.

However, under the rules announced on Monday, new students beginning in September will have to take the plunge and demonstrate that they can swim at least 50m (164ft) using any stroke.

‘Arbitrary rules’

The announcement has been hotly debated on social media, with some questioning whether it is reasonable to expect those who grew up in inland cities to learn how to swim as adults.

“What happens to students from arid places that have no seaside or rivers?” wrote Yixunsangyao.

Another commenter, Xishuoge, wrote: “Even though it is a ‘famous university’, it shouldn’t make up arbitrary rules, as such rules could snuff out talents.”

Others, such as Shin-ssi, praised the university for promoting a “necessary skill which can save lives”, adding: “It’s a good thing for the university to emphasise this.”

Those who appeared pleased with their own abilities to swim, made light of the announcement, asking if they could enrol as students at Tsinghua University.

 

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