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Archive for the ‘Open Water Swimming’ Category

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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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The Otago Daily Times of New Zealand reports: More than 100 local children have been learning water survival skills and experiencing the reality of open water conditions under expert supervision.

The intensive week-long programme, a research project by Associate Prof Chris Button, Dean of the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise, is aimed at filling the gap in children’s open water survival skills.

In total, almost 120 children, mainly from Dunedin, have been learning about open water conditions and experiencing them ”in a fun and engaging way”.

Fifty-seven children aged between 7 and 11, undertook the programme earlier this month, another 60 taking part this week.

The free programme covers a variety of important topics such as float and control breathing, how to attract help in an emergency, underwater swimming to retrieve an object, fitting a life jacket appropriately, understanding river features such as currents, obstacles and unseen hazards, beach games, and awareness of appropriate behaviour in the event of a boat capsizing.

Yesterday’s sessions were at Otago Harbour where experienced Swimsation instructors from Moana Pool took the group through the theory of what they would be doing in the harbour before the children entered the water to put the theory into practice.

Today’s session will involve river survival skills at Outram Glen and tomorrow the group will be learn surf survival skills at Brighton Beach.

An assessment at the Taieri College Pool on Friday will be followed by another post-assessment in about three months.

The children’s knowledge and physical competency was assessed at the start of the programme.

Prof Button, whose interest is in motor learning, says children learn well and quickly and ”hopefully, they will retain what they learn on the programme”.

He said he developed the project because previously the focus had been on children learning to swim in swimming pools and he thought it would be better for them to learn how to swim and survive in open water, such as a harbour, a river and an ocean beach.

The programme was primarily a research project and the data would be provided to Water Safety New Zealand, Swimsation and other interested organisations.

 

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Bedfordshire on Sunday reports: Water safety signs erected at Bedford’s Great Ouse after three river deaths in two weeks.

MORE water safety signage have been erected following a series of river-deaths over the past month.

In recent weeks, three people have died in open water within Bedford Borough, including 39-year-old Zibigniew Lasocki who was pulled from the river on July 18.

Over the following two weeks officers pulled two more men from the river, the first on July 23 – in which the man was pulled from the river alive but later died in hospital – and the second on the morning of July 31

In light of the these tragic deaths, Bedford Borough Council, Bedfordshire Police and Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue are working together to ensure messages get out to the public on water safety.

Steven Allen, Homes, Roads & Leisure Safety Manager at Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue, said: “Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service urge the public to avoid swimming in open water for leisure and entering open water to help someone else thought to be in trouble. Cold water, strong currents and submerged hazards can quickly overwhelm the strongest of swimmers.

“The best way to help someone else in trouble is to immediately notify emergency services using 999, keep the person under observation and confirm their location to assist with rescue. Lifebelts or other flotation devices, where available, can be thrown to support a person in trouble until help arrives.” More…

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After enjoying the wonderful facilities open to outdoor swimmers around the world, swimmers here in the UK can’t help but feel disgruntled that their liberty to swim in rivers and lakes has for many years been denied, and especially so with the scorching weather we have just been enjoying this week.

We want to go dipping but the sign says NO SWIMMING!

The good news is that things are changing. The impossible is being achieved, albeit very slowly.

The problem lies in the fact that  authorities, keen to restrict swimming in open water (for reasons  long forgotten) have truly convinced themselves that wild swimming is just too risky. Its rather like Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, in that it takes a child to point out the obvious: “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” The fact is plain to see, if swimming is OK throughout  Europe, how can it be more dangerous here?

This is not to say that its an easy thing for authorities to release their strangle hold on the swimmers freedom. If something goes wrong public opinion will want to point the finger of blame.

The good news comes from the Outdoor Swimming Society in the form of the: Inland Access Guide.

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Download a copy and its message of hope will prove better reading than the Sunday papers!

 

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17522835_10155205434551289_8539666495836669484_nA five-and-a-half year negotiation with British Waterways (as was) to remove their new No Swimming sign at Sparth Reservoir has at last met with success.

A change in thinking has been a long time coming but it is a sign of the times as our Island mentality is slowly being replaced by broader minds.

The dispute arose over the continued use of the reservoir by wild swimmers. British Waterways put up a “no swimming” sign at Sparth Reservoir in Marsden, Huddersfield. They said that it replaced a former sign that had gone missing, reasoning that it would be “reckless” to allow swimming at the site. “But swimmers said they have used the reservoir for decades and it is possible to enjoy the sport safely. They believe the reservoir has been used for recreational swimming since the 1940s and possibly earlier. In the future they hoped signs could be changed to allow them to swim at their own risk.” As reported by the BBC.

Attitudes in Britain differ greatly to those of our European partners. Swimming is encouraged in rivers and lakes abroad but rarley so in England.

Discover the fascinating history of outdoor swimming in Britain – read: Hung Out to Dry; Swimming and British Culture. The reasons for our prejudice towards outdoor swimming are deep-rooted, complex and pervasive. Yet surely reason will ultimately win out, especially as wild swimming continues to grow in popularity.

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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 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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