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Throughout history children have faced danger when in and arround water. Better parental supervision, clear warnings of specific dangers and in some cases swimming restrictions have all played a part in reducing the risk, but life saving education is without doubt the best precaution against disaster.

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beginning in 2017 all schoolchildren in the Australian province of Victoria will be required to swim 50 meters straight and show in-pool survival skills beginning in 2017, according to the Herald Sun.

The Herald Sun had been pushing for these learn-to-swim programs in schools as a result of 43 drowning deaths in Victoria this year and a 40 percent rise in fatal drownings. Research from Life Saving Victoria found that three out of five students could not swim by the time they finished primary school.

The Herald Sun reports: Brodie Morris, 12, …almost drowned in the Murray River two years ago. “We nearly lost him,” said his dad, Brett. “It happened in a split second. We’re really lucky that someone pulled him up. He could have been another statistic. He’d been to swimming lessons before but he hadn’t picked anything up.”

After the 10-week program at Shepparton’s Aquamoves pool, Brodie, from Kyabram, was swimming a dozen laps with ease. Even waking up earlier for the 40-minute trip to the pool didn’t faze him. “We were amazed how he went. He was motivated, he was fantastic,” Mr Morris said.

Mr Taylor said the goal was to teach every Victorian child to swim at a satisfactory level within a decade.

 

 

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Malcolm Tozer Reviews: Hung Out to Dry: Swimming and British Culture, in the Spring Edition of Physical Education Matters.

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It was by chance that your reviewer came across this privately published social history of swimming and the evident enthusiasm of its author – devotee of outdoor bathing and self-taught historian – prompted the request for a copy. Chris Ayriss’s idiosyncratic approach is as refreshing as the waters he loves and the ebb and flow of his story matches that of meandering stream; you never know what is round the next bend.

The Blue Lagoon Bristol 1937

The book spans ancient and modern, from the Roman occupation of Britain right up to the health-and-safety madness of present times. On the journey we meet bathing to satisfy superstitious, ritualistic, religious, medical, sensual, sexual, naturist, hygienic and escapist needs – amongst others – sometimes with the active approval of society, sometimes not. It would seem that skinny-dipping just for fun was never as simple as that.

Henleaze Lake Bristol 1932

Bathing’s real boom began in the mid-Victorian period when Thomas Cook introduced cheap rail excursions to seaside resorts; week-long factory closures saw whole towns decamp to Skeggie or Clacton; Billy Butlin’s promise of a week’s holiday for a week’s wage led to the popularity of holiday camps; major resorts competed for the biggest lidos and the highest diving boards; and inland cities provided their own riverside beaches and swimming lakes. Some marvellous photographs show packed crowds on Blackpool beach in 1949, with no room to swing a spade; sand-castle building in the shadow of London’s Tower Bridge in 1939; a sardine-jammed lido in Bristol in 1937; and fantastic multiple diving platforms at Henleaze and Weston-super-Mare.

London-on-Sea 1939

The demise from the 1960s was sudden: it came with the introduction of cheap flights to Mediterranean beaches; the delights of sun and sangria; the building of corporation indoor swimming complexes; riverside landowners denying right of access; health concerns about polluted rivers, canals and lakes; and safety worries over unsupervised bathing. Recent evidence from my outlook in Cornwall suggests that a partial recovery is underway – helped by the economic recession, the popularity of ‘staycations’, and the ready availability of wetsuits. Is the bucket-and-spade holiday back in fashion?

Wild Swimming

All this is told in a jaunty style. A bevy of blurred boys’ bare bottoms may see the book banned from school libraries, but there is much here to inform and entertain all who have ever delighted in a midnight skinny-dip – outdoors, of course.

Hung Out to Dry: Swimming and British Culture, by Chris Ayriss, Lulu.com, 2012, £14.50, ISBN 978-0-557-12428-2

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A retired police frogman is warning of the dangers of swimming in open water after a haunting experience over 50 years ago.

See article…

“I just want to warn people of the dangers of the Wharfe, not just at Collingham but all along, especially now the warm weather is here,” added Mr Waugh.

“I remember we attended a tragic incident at the river Wharfe at Collingham where I recovered the bodies of two local schoolchildren.”

“The thing that struck me on this occasion and many other similar occurrences is that these tragedies can occur in shallow water, children simply lose balance, panic and drown.”

Mr Waugh issued his warning in response to the story recently run in the Wetherby News which highlighted posts made by members of the public on the Outdoor Swimming Society’s wildswim website recommending swimming in the Wharfe at Collingham.

“I just want to warn people of the dangers of the Wharfe, not just at Collingham but all along, especially now the warm weather is here,” added Mr Waugh.

“The river Wharfe is beautiful but extremely dangerous.

Mr Waugh said the police team was the first of its kind in the country and was formed to avoid the use of grappling hooks, and to persuade all mill owners to have their mill dams drained.

“My team used to visit schools and continually warn children of these dangers.

“I would like to think that in doing so we saved many lives.

“And I just want to get the message across to children and parents not to swim in the rivers.

“There are many hidden dangers and it is very easy to slip and then people panic and then the cold gets to you.”

But Lynne Roper, acting press officer for the Outdoor Swimming Society said they needed factual data to suggest that the stretch of water posed a danger to swimmers.

“We can’t just make a blanket ban. All rivers and open water pose dangers but what we need is actual evidence that we can see.”

She added: “We are not in the business of encouraging inappropriate behaviour around water.

“On the contrary we aim to allow the safe enjoyment of water in the outdoors; we spread awareness about issues such as cold acclimatisation and the specific dangers associated with open water (such as river currents, floods, and rip currents in the sea) so that people are informed enough to make their own risk assessments and judgements about where is safe to swim.”

And Ms Roper added: “Several of our members have swum safely in the river Wharfe at Collingham when conditions are right.

“Some of the comments left on the OSS wild swim map at the location in Collingham only serve to perpetuate misinformation.

“There is no such thing as a “hidden whirlpool” and all dangerous river features are visible if you know what to look for and what to expect.

Encouraging the safe appreciation of rivers, lakes and the sea through the promotion of understanding, knowledge and expertise should be a shared goal.

“Dire warnings to stay away from water have never worked and clearly continue not to work.” More…

Swim Smart – advice for adults who wish to swim in open water

Swim Safe – advice for adults and children

 

 

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 Yackandandah Primary School's Noah Jackson, 11, leads the pack as instructor Conor Keely conducts classes.

The Border Mail reports: “The effort to educate the Border’s newest residents about safe swimming in the Murray River and other waterways is to be commended. Those who grow up by the river generally have a healthy respect for it after hearing from a young age of its possible dangers. New residents can’t be expected to have any immediate understanding of the vagaries of the mighty Murray.

In Albury yesterday, young immigrants aged 12 to 19 were among those getting an education in first-aid, water safety, bodyboarding, life jacket usage and rescue techniques. The Albury-Wodonga Volunteer Resource Bureau is supporting them through the course at Noreuil Park, where Afghani man Abdul Ehsani drowned last month. In December, an 18-year-old member of Mildura’s Hazara refugee community also drowned while swimming in the Murray in Sunraysia.

A dip in the river is one of the great pleasures of summer for those lucky enough to live by the great waterway, and it should not be the case that we create a sense of fear about it.

None of us is immune to getting into trouble, but the risk is so much greater for those who have no comprehension of what it is they are jumping into.”

Swim Smart: Advice for adults and teenagers

Swim Safe: Advice for parents and children

How risky is wild swimming?

 

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1938 Summer Swimming Relays in River Cherwell

1938 Summer Swimming Relays in River Cherwell

Oxford, the centre of learning, has a Wild Swimming history stretching back hundreds of years.

The History of swimming in Oxford

As Britain led the world into a new association with water wild swimming came back into vogue and people countrywide began using natural ponds, lakes and rivers for their wild swimming adventures. In Oxford, Parson’s Pleasure[1] had been in use since the 16th century. The site still holds echoes of its past as does its companion: Dames’ Delight. Parson’s Pleasure officially came to its end in the mid 1990s, but cultural change started its slow death long before that. The fencing has now all gone, along with the diving board. A concrete base is all that is left of the fun, like a memorial stone on the now deserted lawns, the remains lie on the opposite bank to University Parks, Holywell. A bench in the grounds bears a plaque memorializing ‘…Mr H N Spalding[2] a lover of Parson’s Pleasure who gave to the university the fields opposite the bathing place in order to preserve the view.’ It was traditional for men and boys to bathe here in the nude. Naturally, it was screened from view on all sides and as you might expect, ladies were to either avert their eyes as they passed by in punts, or better still, to get out of the punt and walk around the fencing. C S Lewis apparently loved the place, as did many dons and undergraduates. In later times, speculation developed as to the interests of those using Parson’s Pleasure and indeed, as its popularity declined, it became a magnet for suspicions. According to Cities Of The Imagination:[3] ‘By the end, the only men who went there were those who wanted to expose themselves to passing punts and those who delighted in the company of naked young men.’

Swimmers at Tumbling Bay in 1959

The history of swimming in Oxford well illustrates changes seen across Britain. The British Isles are surrounded and saturated with waterways which should be a delight for swimmers, yet the history of swimming reveals that the British have gone to great lengths to separate swimmers from the natural world. Today swimmers are mostly confined to indoor pools and the swimmers experience is a far cry from the freedom, fun and adventure associated with swimming in the recent past.  Read Hung Out to Dry and discover why the experience of swimmers has changed so much and what this says about us as a nation and about our culture.

Cold water swimming

The history  of swimming pools

The History of Swimming Costumes

100 years of swimming history 1912 – 2012

“A persuasive book… intriguing from the outset, a fascinating chronology of British swimming which goes much deeper than one might expect. Well researched and interestingly written… the historical ebb and flow of swimming popularity is quite remarkable.” The Swimming Times November 2012

Wild Swimming

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This article was written By Nicholas Salmon for the Amersham Society newsletter in 1992

The history of the baths goes back to 1886 when Squire Drake gave the town permission to erect a bathing structure and widen the River Misbourne at the Missenden end of the town. This announcement was followed by a hastily arranged Parish meeting convened on 23rd July 1886 to decide on the best means of proceeding. At this meeting Mr. Darlington was commissioned to widen the river and put up hoardings around the baths. It was also agreed to purchase a temporary structure to serve as changing accommodation and this was stored at the end of each season in a loft kindly lent by Mr. W. H. Dumbarton.

The cost of using the Coldmoreham Pool for local residents was 2s 6d (12p) per annum. For this price they had the exclusive use of the pool between 7 and 10 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m. On the other hand the Misbourne – in the days when it actually flowed – was extremely cold and it was not unusual for bathers to find themselves sharing the pool with aquatic visitors: even the occasional pike! During the early part of the Century a number of improvements were made to the pool. In 1911 £10 was spent on extending its length to 50 yards, while permanent ladies’ and gentlemen’s cubicles were built during the 1920s. To supervise the swimmers a caretaker was also appointed.

The rudeness and high-spirits engendered by the mixture of young people and water is nothing new. From the start the authorities had difficulty controlling the bathers. As early as 1st October 1895 the Parish Council Minute Books reveal that it had been ordered “that the Clerk communicate with the police as to the bad language and conduct of persons using the bathing place”. Quite serious disturbances were caused when large numbers of Chesham youths descended on the pool during hot weather and picked fights with their Amersham counterparts. As late as August 1929 it was reported in the Bucks Examiner that the girls had a “grudge” against the boys as the latter had longer hours: “Consequently when the girls get in they are reluctant to get out and do not hesitate to keep the boys waiting. On the other hand the boys ‘have their own back’ where possible and both boys and girls give the caretaker and his wife no little trouble”. More…

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Swimmers Get Ahead of their peers in School

Swimmers do better in school

The Herald Sun Reports: SWIMMING in their early years can propel children to the top of the class, new research shows.

It found youngsters that swam had a significant advantage over non-swimming students in a range of subjects.

“6 – 15 months ahead of the normal population when it came to cognitive skills, problem solving in mathematics, counting, language and following instructions.”

11 months ahead of the population in oral expression, 6 months ahead in mathematics reasoning and 2 months ahead in brief reading.

17 months ahead in story recall and 20 months ahead in understanding directions.

Mr Taylor, an experienced instructor, said he believed the brain-boosting benefits of swimming came from “multi-tasking”.

He said both sides of the brain were stimulated as children worked on co-ordinating all parts of their body.

“They have a lot to think about, including counting when they should breathe. I think the multi-tasking under pressure helps their development greatly.

“Kids also learn how to listen and take instruction, which helps them become better students later on.” More…

This research sits well alongside the thinking of the Romans as they conquered the word: ‘An ignorant man neither knows how to read nor to swim.’ This ancient proverb reveals just how the Romans esteemed swimming. Just as we frown on illiteracy today, they looked down on non-swimmers as incompetent. Hung Out to Dry, Swimming and British Culture.

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