Archive for the ‘Paris’ Category


The Guardian reports: Standing in his swimming trunks, Gilles looked up at the modern grey apartment buildings and trees that lined the Paris canal. He took a deep breath, then dived into the dark mass of water that had been officially banned to swimmers for decades.

“Bliss,” he said after doing 500m of front crawl, occasionally brushing past bits of green algae in the new temporary swimming zone at La Villette canal basin, where Parisians can take their first legal dip in a city waterway for a century.

“It’s symbolic,” said the 45-year-old film director, drying off. “It shows a future is possible where we can reverse pollution, where we can make things cleaner and reclaim nature. I hate the smell of bleach and chlorine in public pools. This open-air water is cloudy and you can’t see the bottom, but it makes me feel secure. I feel like I’m taking possession of nature again.”

After decades in which casual bathing in Paris’s river and canals has been banned for a variety of reasons, including fears of bacteria and sewage pollution, authorities are moving to give swimmers more access to the murky waters that were once off limits.

The temporary floating structure that has opened at La Villette as part of the summer festival, Paris Plages, allows swimmers to plunge into the water of the Canal de l’Ourcq free of charge, with lifeguards standing by. Parisians are so keen to try it that huge queues form each morning, and it has had to close by mid-afternoon on some days after reaching its daily quota of 1,000 swimmers. More…


Chris Ayriss comments: When you see what has been done to open up access to outdoor swimmers you have to ask; why can’t we do the same in the UK? Well of course we could, but our fundimental attitude towards open water swimming would have to change. As it is, open water swimmers in England have been hung out to dry!


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The Local FR reports: It’s official. The water in the Paris canal is clean enough to swim in meaning Parisians won’t have an excuse not to take a dip this summer.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has promised Parisians they will be able to swim in the city’s canal this summer after test results revealed the water is clean enough for health standards.
Paris authorities had already voted to allow free swimming in the Bassin de la Villette which links the Canal St Martin and the Canal de l’Ourq in the north east of the city and is one of the locations for the Paris Plages summer beach festival.
But the green light depended on whether the water was clean enough.
The results are in and it’s good news for the city’s swimmers, many of whom took a dip in the canal for a one-off “open day” last summer (see photo above).
The temporary structures will be built into the actual Bassin, which connects the Canal de l’Ourcq with the Canal Saint-Martin.
The smallest of the pools will be for children and just 40 centimetres deep. Another will be up to 120 centimetres in depth, while a third will be reserved for swimmers at 2m deep.
The pools in total will stretch 90 metres end to end and measure 16m across.
The City Hall estimates that around 1,000 people will show up to the pools on any given summer day.
It plans to take down the pools at the end of the summer period, with the hopes of setting them up again in the summer of 2018.
The Bassin de la Villette was inaugurated in 1808 by Napoleon Bonaparte and was a former port area during the industrialisation of rivers.
However these days it is the centre for numerous cultural events and has been well and truly gentriifed with numerous trendy bars and restaurants opening alongside the water.

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The Telegraph reports: “Anne Hidalgo pledges to end a swimming ban for Parisians in place since 1923 by having residents of the French capital bathing in the river after the 2024 Olympic Games she hopes will be held in the city.”

Swimmig in the Seine Paris

The announcement was made yesterday as the Mayer “…pledged to have resident of the French capital swimming in the Seine river by 2024, in her latest bid to clean up the city.”

“She said it was her dearest wish that the swimming phase of the Games’ triathlon ‘should take place in the Seine’.” more…

Wild Swimmer

A Leicester man; John/Jack Jarvis (pictured above) took first place as he raced in the Seine in the 1900 Paris Olympics, becoming the first ever triple gold medal winner. Jarvis was a Leicester legend, a man calling himself ‘Amateur Swimming Champion of the World,’ who went on to earn 108 international swimming championships to prove it! Where did he train to swim long distance? In the canalised river Soar, in Leicester right by the no swimming signs in Castle Gardens.

Unlike Paris, river water quality in Leicester is already the best you can expect in a city, and its certainly clean enough for swimming, but the Leicester Mayer does not share the passion for river swimming Anne Hidalgoa pledges. Rather swimmers in Leicester are excluded from the river for a number of complex cultural and historic reasons. The long history of British swimming has seen an evolution in attitude towards river swimmers in England. Pride has turned to deep seated prejudice, which is not easily overcome.

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Paris 1945

Paris 1945

Swimming in Paris has a connection with both Leicester and the Olympics. Leicester swimmer John/Jack Arthur Jarvis won 108 swimming championships including two golds at the Paris Olympics in 1900. He learned to swim in the canal in Leicester and founded the Leicester Swimming Club. He was one of only 15 swimmers honored at the official opening of America’s Swimming Hall of Fame in 1968.

Discover the history of swimming…

Wild Swimmer

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Bathing on the Seine (La grenouillere)
Bathing on the Seine (La grenouillere) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

River races in Paris were once a regular part of life in the capital and Impressionist’s paintings remind us of the hay day of outdoor swimming back when the waters were clean and life was good. Yet things have changed; river pollution has kept both fish and human swimmers out of the Seine for more than 60 years.

Back in the 80s things started to turn around. When he was Mayor of Paris, former President Jacques Chirac vowed to clean up the cities artery and to swim in it once it was restored. Although it is still usually illegal to swim in the river, the fish have secretly returned, rising from just 3 species in 1975 to 33 varieties today. In fact the river is now said to be as clean as it was 150 years ago.

The race was to be split into two categories; a 10km race for the serious swimmer starting at the Josephine Baker floating pool barge, and going past Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Eiffel tower. The 2.5km swim from the Eiffel Tower and ending at the Parc Citroen. The Paris à la Nage swimming race in the Seine was to take place on Sunday September 2nd.

Read about river swimming at the Paris Olympics 1900.

Some 5,000 wild swimmers were disappointed when the swim in the Seine was canceled amid fears about the water quality and police concerns about the disruption of boat traffic. Despite this wild swimmers from the West Country took to the Trocadero Fountains for an “impromptu water ballet” to the amusement of hundreds of spectators. More…

Discover the history of British Swimming and why wild swimmers in the UK were Hung Out to Dry.


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