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Archive for the ‘River Swimming’ Category

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Soapbox Media reports: Only those who have crossed the Ohio River — from Cincinnati to Kentucky and back — truly understand the allure of the Bill Keating, Jr. Great Ohio River Swim.

The Ohio River swimmers jump in the water at the upper end of the serpentine wall, swim across the river to Newport, then back to the boat ramp at the public landing. Total distance is approximately one half mile (or about 40 lengths in a swimming pool).

Prior to the swim, the river is closed to all motorized traffic by the U.S. Coast Guard and is enforced by local and regional law enforcement agency vessels. Flotillas of safety kayakers line the course to assist swimmers if necessary.

The velocity of the river is usually very slow this time of year, less than one mph, and the V-shaped course allows for swimmers’ downstream “drift” due to the current. Water quality is monitored prior to the event to assure safe conditions for all swimmers. The water temperature is usually in the low- to mid-80s, warm enough so that wet suits are not necessary.

Initially, the main reason behind The Swim was to demonstrate to the public that the Ohio is cleaner and safer than most people think, and to encourage participants and the general public to value and advocate for our river.

“It was always a family event,” she says, “and I could never get out of it. I cannot wait until my niece and nephews are old enough to do the Next Generation swim, maybe next summer.” More…

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The Cambridge Independent reports: What started off as a bit of fun for six friends has, over the last five years, grown into an event for nearly 500 swimmers and their friends and families.

Now the social swim and picnic that takes place at Dedham Vale on the Essex-Suffolk border, has spawned a sister event in Cambridge.

On Sunday, July 8, a 2.5km wild swimming event will run from Grantchester to Sheep’s Green, where the picnic will be held.

Although it is not a race, there will be a starter, an official timer, support kayaks, marshals and records to set. There will also be two trophies awarded, one each for first-placed man and first-placed woman.

With four ‘waves’ for swimmers to choose from, getting progressively more laid back, there should be something for everyone. More…

Discover the history of swimming in Cambridge…

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The Melton Times reports: New photo exhibition is a fascinating look back through Melton’s history.

An exhibition displaying fascinating images of the town’s past was opened to the public on Saturday and it will run through to July 7.

Many of the pictures, which have been taken from collections kept by the Thorpe End museum and the Record Office for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, have not previously been seen by the general public.

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There is also an image showing outdoor swimming in the town’s river in 1930. It shows a gala at the lido, on a loop in the river east of Burton End, known as Swans Nest. Diving boards and wooden changing huts were installed. Mixed bathing wasn’t allowed.

Discover the history of swimming places in your area: klick here.

Discover why the British separated the sexes when swimming: Klick here.

Go online at http://www.imageleicestershire.org.uk to see a bigger collection of old historic photos collected by the county council.

 

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The Times reports: Children should be encouraged to enjoy “wild” swimming in rivers, lakes and reservoirs to learn about risk, according to an education expert.

Sandra Leaton Gray, a senior lecturer at the Institute of Education, University College London, said young people were being deterred from dipping into waters that were safe by unnecessary “no swimming” signs.

She said the growing aversion to risk was not always backed by accident statistics: “We are banning swimming in more and more places, and by doing so, making it more dangerous for the very young people we are trying to protect.

“Swimming has become an approved activity run by local authorities in special places, which are almost always heavily chlorinated swimming pools, with strict session times.”

There were 17 deaths by drowning of young people aged 10 to 19 in outside waters — including lakes, ponds and rivers — in England in 2015.

Leaton Gray, a keen wild swimmer herself, said supervised swimming in rivers and lakes would help reduce the risk and the numbers of lives lost.

She said: “Young people gather in all sorts of dodgy spots that wild swimmers would never venture into and then start taking serious risks without being properly aware of the consequences.”

Leaton Gray, who is giving a presentation on children and risk at the British Educational Research Association Conference in Brighton this week, said attitudes to swimming reflected a trend of children being given less freedom to roam and take risks than in previous generations.

The Health and Safety Executive has also said that “no children will learn about risk if they are wrapped in cotton wool”. It says outdoor play may have some hazards but teaches children how to deal with risk.

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The Shropshire Star reports: Despite debris, rising water levels and a strong current, more than 140 swimmers took to the waters of the River Severn.

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The Severn Mile, which is now in its 10th year, attracts open water swimmers from all over the Midlands.

Aged between 17 and 78, the swarm of swimmers entered the water in waves at the Sabrina Boat pontoon on Victoria Quay, Shrewsbury at 11am August 20 2017.

Some were wearing wetsuits while others preferred to take the traditional option of swimming costumes and trucks to brave the 15° water.

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Heavy rains over the past few days had brought debris downstream and strong currents meant organisers had to abandon plans to hold a 1,500m race. Instead swimmers covered a distance of 700m.

Shadowed by canoeists, from Drummonds’ Canoes, the swimmers made their way from the Welsh Bridge to Pengwern Boat Club.

Winner of the men’s race was Les Church from Chester. Despite a fit of the shivers he said: “I do a lot of open water swimming and have swum here for the past seven years. I had a really, really good swim and I am really pleased to have won, particularly as I am now in my 40s.”

Organiser Kathryn Weaver, from Shrewsbury Masters, said that entrants needed to be confident in their own abilities and to have undertaken open water swims in the past. More…

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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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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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