Archive for the ‘Water Safety’ Category

Abbey Park Lido

Abbey Park Lido

The Leicester Mercury reports: Fancy a dip in open water in this weather? To me, the mere thought of a swim in icy cold water brings me out in goose bumps – but, there are those who take the opposite view!

There was a time when British swimmers once filled the lakes and waterways of England.

But things changed and these intrepid swimmers soon found themselves chased out of the water and “rounded up and confined to indoor swimming”.

Some years back, an article I featured concerning swimming in Abbey Park prompted reader Chris Ayriss, of Western Park, to contact me about a book he had written on the history of swimming, Hung Out to Dry.

Mr Ayriss’s book “traces the demise of a swimming empire”.

It also reveals “why the swimmer has been chased out of the water”.

There is a chapter on Leicester and it shows that the Abbey Park was, at one time, used as a venue for major swimming competitions.

The author gives many instances of large-scale gatherings, especially when connected with the Abbey Park Show and told me that “on show days, thousands would travel to Leicester to see the swimming events. They would line the bank of the river to cheer on their heroes in the long distance swims, of both a mile and half-a-mile.

“One report speaks of an afternoon of solid rain not dampening the enthusiasm of thousands of spectators watching the proceedings, which were the biggest draw of the show. One thousand six hundred seats were provided for the spectators at a cost of 6d each.”

Apparently Leicester also had a fearsome reputation in water polo and “these raucous events had a great following”.

One match, against Derby, brought a whole trainload of supporters with it and generated as much excitement as we would see at a big football match today.

The site of the old water polo matches can still be clearly identified by the steps in Tumbling Bay, adjacent to the footbridge in the centre of the park.

Mr Ayriss wrote: “Despite the fact that children were encouraged to swim elsewhere, they continued to use Abbey Park until a prohibition order chased them out of the water in 1959.

“The Medical Officer of Health reported that the river was polluted to such a degree that it was unfit for bathing.

“Since then, great improvements have been made regarding water quality and when I checked with the Environment Agency, the city waters were listed as of ‘good quality’ and are now suitable for bathing.”

Other places in England with waters of similar quality have encouraged children to swim.

They have taken simple health and safety precautions such as having a lifeguard in attendance, dredging and rodent and algae control.

Mr Ayriss suggested similar steps could be taken in Abbey Park, and asked: “Could we not reopen the gates of the footbridge so lives of children are not put at risk? Could we not take down the signs that prohibit swimming and station a lifeguard instead of a warden on the riverbank?

“At one time, Leicester led the way when it came to the encouragement of swimmers. Perhaps now is the time to do something positive to remove the dangers of swimming rather than the swimmers!”


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The Evening Standard reports: Birds Eye was forced to drop a fish finger advert after concerns raised by cold water swimming campaigners.

The frozen food giant ran a TV advert showing a man and boy jumping into the sea to a voiceover that said: “Captain Birds Eye loves the simple things, like jumping into cold water on a hot day with his grandson.”

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But a campaign group set up after a 14-year-old boy died from cold water shock claimed the advert was inappropriate.

The firm took the advert off air and agreed to amend the voiceover.

Cameron Gosling, from Cook, died in July 2015 from after going swimming with his friends in the River Wear.

While his friends paddled in the river and acclimatised their bodies, Cameron jumped in. The cold water shocked his body and, despite his friends trying to save him, he died.

The teenager’s family and Durham County Council later launched the Dying to be Cool campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of swimming in cold water.

His mother, Fiona, contacted the company to say she was “shocked” when she saw the advert.

She added: “It seemed as though Birds Eye hadn’t done its research before making it but I’m grateful that they agreed to change the advert and at how quickly they acted.”

And the council also called on the firm for the advert to be changed.

A letter written by written by Jane Robinson, chair of Durham City Safety Group, and Kevin Lough, chair of Durham Open Water Safety Group, said: “Jumping into water can result in cold water shock which is a major factor in drownings.

“Most waters in the UK are of a temperature which would induce cold water shock all year round.

“Durham City Safety Group and Durham Open Water Safety Group therefore ask that you do not continue to suggest jumping into cold water on a hot day is safe.

“This behaviour is not a ‘simple thing’, it leads to many fatalities and we ask that you reconsider this messaging.”

A spokesman for the firm said: “At Birds Eye, we take our advertising responsibilities very seriously and we were grateful to be made aware of this issue.

Swim Safe

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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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The Guardian reports: Children should undergo swimming tests before being allowed to go swimming on school trips, a coroner has recommended, after a schoolboy drowned in a Canadian lake after being pushed into the water by a schoolfriend.

Abdul Jamal Ottun, 17, a house captain at Wallington County grammar school in Surrey, was on a two-week rugby tour after completing his AS levels in July 2015 when he died swimming in Shawnigan Lake, Vancouver island.

His mother, Lolade Ottun, 47, a maths teacher, said he was an “average swimmer” who had never swum in a lake before, and was not allowed to swim in the sea.

Around 25 boys were in and out of the water, and no one saw him struggling.

David Johnson, the director of sport, who was responsible for risk assessment of the lake on the day, said: “Prior to going on the trip parents had to sign a form. They had to circle an indication of their son’s swimming ability.” Johnson said he had been in the water, and the boys had been warned to be sensible. None of them went further than 10 metres from the jetty.

A health and safety expert, Peter Cornall, said there needed to be “fundamental changes” to the national curriculum regarding swimming safety.

Swim Safe!

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The Medical Express reports: Keeping young children away from perceived risky activities such as wild outdoor swimming is damaging, according to education expert Dr Sandra Leaton Gray (UCL Institute of Education).

Writing in her book ‘Invisibly Blighted: the digital erosion of childhood’ Leaton Gray says, “Heavily supervised young children of today may simply be more likely to drown as youths because they don’t go swimming very often and their water safety awareness is low, compared to that of children who swim frequently under less supervision.”

She will present her paper, ‘How risky is it to be a child?’ at the British Educational Research Association (BERA) conference this week.

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The East Anglia Daily Times reports: Open water swimming is growing in popularity. But as well as being enjoyable, could immersing yourself in cold water in the great outdoors be good for your health? Sheena Grant reports

“When you swim,” wrote the late, great Roger Deakin in Waterlog, his spellbinding book about wild swimming around Britain, “you feel your body for what it mostly is – water – and it begins to move with the water around it.”

For Roger, whose journey first suggested itself to him as his swam in the moat around his Suffolk home, swimming – especially outdoors – was like returning to a natural state, to experience how it was before you were born, in the safety of the womb.

He recalled illicit swims from his youth, clambering over a fence to get to the open-air pool in Diss on a sultry summer’s evening, and in the night sea at Walberswick seeing bodies “fiery with phosphorescent plankton striking through the neon waves like dragons”.

Swimming was so much more than a physical activity. There was a spiritual demension to it too. It informed his being like the memory of dreams.

Roger was ahead of the game with his 1996 masterpiece. It’s taken the rest of us a little longer to embrace the joys – and health benefits – of outdoor swimming. But we’re getting there. Membership of the Outdoor Swimming Society has jumped from just 300 in 2006 to more than 25,000 in 2016.


Seamus Bennett, organiser of the Felixstowe Swimscapes Open Water Swimming group, has no doubt that swimming outside benefits both mental and physical health.

“It’s free and when you do it in a group like we do (which is the safest way) it is very social,” he says. “It gives people the sense of being in a community that takes in different ages, genders and backgrounds. Swimming is a great equaliser and tremendous exercise for all parts of the body.

“Being in open water gives a real feeling of freedom, challenge and achievement that you don’t really get in a pool, unless you’re swimming huge distances. It’s definitely never boring; every swim is different.

“Our group has grown every year since it started in 2012. We’ve gone from 12 to 500 (Facebook) members now. Not all of them come but the interest is there. Numbers at swims have grown too though. On a summer Saturday last year we were getting 30-40 people. This summer I suspect it could go up to 50 or 60

“On your own open water swimming is dangerous. For newcomers especially, having a group and knowing that the sea you are swimming in is safe and knowing the tides is reassuring and important. Being part of a group is more enjoyable too.”

Felixstowe Swimscapes’ summer season runs from May to October, when meets are held on Saturday mornings and Monday evenings, but some members swim all year round on a Saturday morning.

“In the summer we swim to the pier and back, which takes 60-70 minutes but people can do less than that,” says Seamus. “They can do any distance and we swim parallel to the shore so it’s easy to get out when you want to and walk back along the prom. The water quality here is good and there are no dangerous currents. We get people from all over the region who come to join us.” More…

Click here to discover why swimmers in Britain were 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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