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Archive for the ‘River Swimming’ Category

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The Times reports: Dangerous pollutants in England’s waterways have reached their highest levels since modern testing began, The Times can reveal, with no river in the country now certified as safe for swimmers.

Wild swimming has surged in popularity, with tens of thousands of people bathing in countryside rivers and ponds during the heatwave.

However, an investigation by this newspaper has revealed that rivers in England are not tested enough to be considered safe for swimming. Eighty-six per cent fall short of the EU’s ecological standard — the minimum threshold for a healthy waterway — up from 75 per cent a decade ago.

In addition, half of all stretches of river monitored by the Environment Agency exceeded permitted limits of at least one hazardous pollutant last year, including toxic heavy metals and pesticides.

Despite serious pollution incidents frequently exceeding the limits, prosecutions by the agency against the regional monopolies that run Britain’s sewage systems have declined — to three last year from thirty in 2014.

River Swimming Water Quality

Hundreds of wild-swimming clubs have formed across the country in the past two years, according to the Outdoor Swimming Society, whose membership has climbed to more than 70,000 from only a couple of hundred a decade ago.

Most people who enjoyed waterside beauty spots last week will have been unaware of how Britain’s ageing sewage system is being overwhelmed, placing wildlife and people at risk.

The number of water quality tests taken by the agency for all pollutants fell to 1.3 million last year from nearly five million in 2000. The agency says that monitoring has become “more targeted, risk-based and efficient”, peaking in 2013 after “extensive water quality investigations required for the first cycle of the [EU] water framework directive”. Experts say, however, that monitoring is deteriorating as budgets and staffing levels fall.

The agency said: “Water quality is now better than at any time since the Industrial Revolution, largely due to the £25 billion of investment that the Environment Agency has required water companies to make.

“It is wrong to claim the agency’s budget and staffing levels are dramatically impacting on our ability to monitor water quality. We are the largest environmental protection agency in Europe, with a budget of over £1 billion. Numbers of operational staff have increased by 10 per cent since 2016.”

The agency also said that some recent serious pollution incidents had been caused by extreme weather. Read the full story…

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In the UK, news services feature saftey warnings warning swimmers to stay out of open waters.  Contrast attitudes at home with this refreshing advice from Switzerland.

The Local reports: Switzerland is blessed with a huge variety of lakes and rivers that are perfect for bathing in. But with a number of fatal incidents already hitting the news this summer, we look at the best way to swim in safety.

Following the tragic death of Swiss footballer Florijana Ismaili in Lake Como, Italy, and the deaths of two men in separate incidents this week – one in Wohlen lake in canton Bern, and another in Hallwil lake in Aargau – it’s only too clear how quickly a swim in the great outdoors can go wrong.
The Swiss Lifesaving Society (SLRG) is one of the bodies in Switzerland working to prevent swimming accidents. According to them, there are a few simple rules which should be followed to help keep you safe in the water.
Supervise children
Swimming with little ones? Only allow children near water if they are supervised – and always keep them within arm’s reach.
Avoid alcohol
Never go into the water if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You should also avoid swimming if you have a full stomach, or indeed a very empty stomach.
Go slow
Never jump into the water if you’re feeling overheated. As much as you’re desperate to cool down, get in slowly to allow your body time to adjust to the water and avoid cold water shock, a potentially fatal condition.
Avoid the unknown
Don’t dive into cloudy water or in an area of the lake that you don’t know. It might not be deep enough, or there may be obstacles or other hidden dangers.
Leave the airbed on shore
If you’re heading into deep water, don’t use an airbed or swimming aid, since they offer little protection and might give you a false sense of security.
Swim with a friend
You may consider yourself a strong swimmer, but it’s best to never swim long distances alone. Even the best swimmers can experience a moment of weakness.
Keep an eye on the weather
Don’t ever swim in a storm, and leave the water immediately if you see one approaching. Many Swiss lakes have a warning system of flashing lights to indicate that you should get off the water straight away.
Stick to designated areas
Don’t go swimming in areas of a lake where there are boats, ferries or other vehicles – it’s best to stick to the designated swimming areas.
If you stick to the rules and use common sense, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the wonderful array of places to swim in Switzerland this summer, whether it be a drift down the Aare river, a dip in Lake Geneva or a swim off the rocks in the beautiful Verzasca valley.

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Waterford Live Reports: Waterford City and County Council must identify official bathing areas so that they can be monitored for safety, water quality and their level of use.

To help with this process, Waterford City and County Council is asking people who swim at beaches, lakes and rivers to tell them if they think they should maintain existing designated bathing waters designations or give a new official bathing area designation to areas that are commonly used for swimming, but not identified at the moment.

Under European and Irish law, Irish local authorities must identify bathing waters each year so that these areas can be monitored to ensure they meet stringent microbiological water quality standards. In some cases, the official bathing areas are also the areas where local authorities focus their resources providing lifeguards during the summer season. These laws require that the local authority prepares detailed descriptions or profiles for each of the identified bathing water sites that describe not just the bathing area but also areas in the surface waters catchment area that could be a source of pollution. The profiles include assessing the risk of pollution and what action would be taken if pollution occurs.

If you are a regular swimmer and want to help the council decide which bathing areas should be classified as such, it might be helpful to consider the following:

  • How your swimming area has been used up to now
  • How many people use the site
  • What facilities exist at the site and how accessible it is
  • Any safety issues.

If you wish to propose your favourite beach/river as a new bathing water site or comment on an existing site, please visit www.waterfordcouncil.ie. Closing date for submissions to Waterford City and County Council is July 17.

 

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China Daily reports: Di Huanran …the 60-year-old daredevil is the resident waterfall diver at the northeast border city’s Jingpo Lake resort, and he loves his job of providing hair-raising entertainment for sightseers.

“I feel I’m flying like a hawk and this feeling is such a great joy,” enthused the pensioner in a recent interview with Xinhua. “When I am in the air, I wish time would stand still. Every time I try a new height or a new place, it’s a breath of fresh air.”

Upon reaching retirement age last winter, Di was devastated to learn his contract would not be renewed. The bombshell even affected his health and he fell ill.

Things took a turn for the better a month later, though, when he signed a contract extension allowing him to earn at least 180,000 yuan (nearly $30,000) per year in addition to his pension. More importantly, he could resume diving down the 20-meter Diaoshuilou Waterfall – the world’s largest basalt cascade – every day.

Over the years, Di has tried diving off almost every bridge in Heilongjiang province, including the Mudan River Bridge and the Songhua River Bridge in Harbin.

Some of his favorite spots include the Hukou Waterfall on the upstream of the Yellow River and the Haihe Jiefang Bridge in Tianjin.

Despite the risk involved, Di insists safety is always uppermost in his thoughts.

“You need to be a good swimmer and you need to know how to adjust your body to avoid going too deep,” he explained.

“A depth of one and a half meters is fine for me, so I can return to the surface quickly and don’t get lost in the turbulence.

“Diving down, you need to prevent your body from heading to the bottom, and you need to make sure you are able to swim back to the bank, that’s what I keep in mind for each attempt.”

In 2008, Di was awarded a Guinness World Record as the globe’s highest waterfall diver. But he remains uneasy with the daredevil tag he has earned.

“I will only dive down when I’m 100 percent sure I’m not risking my life. Safety is always my top priority when I try this activity, which to many is so risky. I like to think of myself as an explorer as opposed to an adventurer.”

Remarkably, Di hopes to continue his adventures for another two decades.

“Outdoor diving is a huge part of my life,” he said. “As long as my body condition allows, I think I will continue diving until the age of 80.” Compare attitudes in China with the UKRead more or Watch the video below:

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The Ilkley Gazette reports: ILKLEY Clean River Campaign is applying for the River Wharfe to be designated for swimming in a bid to rid it of pollution.

Ilkley would be the first in the UK to achieve this status if it can be proved that the public plays, paddles and swims in the river.

Becky Malby, of the campaign group said: “We are applying for Designated Bathing Water status between the Old Bridge and Denton Bridge to cover the entire area where locals and tourists enjoy the river. This would put pressure on the water agencies to ensure they are not polluting the river with raw sewage, and would make our river fit to paddle and play in.

“To prove that we need a clean river we are required to count people on the river bank and playing in the river over the period May 15 to September 30.

“To do this we need to photograph (long shot not close up) and count people in the river at least 20 times over the summer. We need to count the number of adults and children separately, and state the numbers related to swimming, paddling, playing (inflatables), and on the riverbank. We are looking for volunteers to help us with the counting. We provide you with a Ilkley Clean River Group t-shirt, clicker, form and information flyers (as people are bound to ask what you are up too). You volunteer to do two or more counts in one week (choose your week) between May and September. You count when there are a lot of people there!

“We will present the interim results at a Town Meeting on the 11th July and also update everyone on the results of the Citizen Water Testing. If you have comments on the Designated Bathing Water Status, or can volunteer for counting please let us know on our website https://sites.google.com/view/cleanwharfeilkley/home?authuser=0

or Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Ilkley-Clean-River-Group-431201944302819/

Ilkley Clean River Group’s second Ilkley Town Meeting is on July 11 from 5.30pm – 7pm in Christchurch.

Data from the citizen testing and the bathing count will be shared and MP John Grogan will be there along with new Town Mayor, Mark Stidworthy.

Becky added: “Do come and hear our progress and contribute your thoughts to the campaign and contribute to the consultation on Bathing Water Status.”

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Swim City Exhibition Basel Switzerland

25.05. – 29.09.2019

Swim City

Opening: 24/05/2019, 7 PM

The exhibition “Swim Citywill be the first to draw attention to one particular contemporary phenomenon in the urban space: river swimming as a mass movement – a 21st-century Swiss invention. For decades, cities like Basel, Bern, Zurich and Geneva have been gradually making the river accessible as a natural public resource in the built environment. This has made the river become a place of leisure, right on the doorstep and firmly anchored in everyday life. The rest of the world looks on in awe at the bathing culture in the Rhine, Aare, Limmat and Rhone. Here, cities like Paris, Berlin, London and New York see an example of how they can reclaim their river areas as a spatial resource, so as to sustainably improve the quality of people’s urban lives.

Curators:  Barbara Buser, Architect and Rhine expert; Andreas Ruby, Director S AM
For the film recordings, S AM collaborates with Zurich director Jürg Egli, who creates a large-scale triple-screen projection that will show the experience of river swimming from the perspective of the swimmer.

Discover more…

Basel Swim City

Watch the Video              Discover Wild Swimming in Switzerland

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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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