Archive for the ‘wild swimming’ Category

As the lock-down continues to restrict holiday options, the English, looking to escape the sultry weather are advised to swim either in the sea, river or lake as swimming pools and Lidos remain out of bounds.

Thousands of would be wild swimmers have swamped popular inland destinations and beaches. To ease congestion the Outdoor Swimming Society have taken down their map of wild swimming locations. Councils are considering the repercussions of hosting popular swimming spots. But how do attitudes here compare with those abroad?

Dutch News reports: No summer holiday? Councillors propose ‘wild swimming’ in the river.

With long summer months ahead and limited possibilities of foreign holidays, councillors in Amsterdam have proposed designating official ‘wild swimming’ points along the Amstel river. Jan-Bert Vroege, a D66 councillor and local party water spokesman told DutchNews.nl that the city needs to provide and advertise more official safe spots for children and adults to swim in natural water, to provide a vital, open leisure facility while maintaining social distancing. He has made a proposal to create the first official swimming spots on the Amstel river, in order to ensure that swimming there is safe and there are more recreational opportunities for Amsterdammers rich and poor who are stuck in the city. ‘The water in Amsterdam’s channels has got a lot cleaner in recent years,’ he told DutchNews.nl. ‘Before, it was really dangerous to swim in the canals and in the Amstel but nowadays the water quality is a lot better. People swim at a lot of places that aren’t officially designated and some get very busy. People need recreation spots and the 1.5m distancing rules will still apply.’ ‘So my suggestion is to make far more places for swimming and communicate this so that far more people can enjoy the water and weather, at a walking or cycling distance from the city, and not all squashed together, especially if we have to stay here this summer and can’t all go on holiday.’ More…

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A swimmer enjoying a dip in the River Wye in July ALAMY

The Times reports:

Water companies are polluting some of Britain’s most picturesque rivers, from the Windrush in the Cotswolds to the Aire in Yorkshire, without facing a penalty for the vast majority of offences.

Of 1,863 unlawful pollution incidents by water companies in rivers in England last year, 1,423 were registered as having no further action taken or no action recorded. There are 36 active investigations, but not one prosecution, for 2018.

Water UK, the trade association for the big water companies, said: “Water quality in our rivers is now better than at any time since the start of the Industrial Revolution, and there has been a big drop in the number of serious pollution incidents in recent years, down from over 130 in 2005 to 56 in 2018. But we are passionate about protecting and improving our environment, which is why water companies plan to reduce serious pollution incidents by 90% by 2025.”

Sian Griffiths writes: After years of front-crawling through any water available, I now swim breaststroke in rivers, keeping my head up stiffly, after suffering from a succession of ear and eye infections. I plaster up small cuts to keep out germ-filled liquid and try to shower quickly to avoid strange rashes.

The pleasures, however, still far outweigh the risks. Read more…

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Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Pexels.com

The Telegraph reports: British beaches, bays and lakes have achieved record levels of cleanliness amid a surge in the popularity of wild swimming.

Of the 420 places where you can take an outdoor dip in England, 300 were ranked as having ‘excellent’ water quality, according to an annual report by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

This is the best rating the country has received since the records system began in 2015.

The impressive ranking comes after recent figures revealed that the number of people regularly swimming in wild waters increased from 266,500 to 490,660 between 2016 and 2018.

Defra’s report highlights that almost all swimming spots achieved at least the minimum standards for clean water, with 71.4 per cent achieving the ‘excellent’ standard (compared with 63.6 per cent in 2015) and 21.9 per cent categorised as ‘good’.

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My London Reports: Beckenham Park Place’s wild swimming lake was only open a matter of days before it had to close due to safety concerns.

The lake reopened again on Saturday (August 24).

However, there are strict rules now in place for those visiting.

According to the Lewisham Council website visitors will need to do the following:

  • You will need a ticket to come into the lake area. It is open from 7am to 6pm
  • You must be able to swim 25 metres and be over eight years old to use the open water swimming area
  • Paddling for under-8s is not currently available
  • Numbers are limited. If one session fills up, you can book for the next session as follows 7–9am 9.15–11.15am 11.30am–1.30pm 1.45–3.45pm 4–6pm

Entry fee

  • Adult: £3
  • Child: £2
  • Family ticket: £10 (2 adults and 3 children)

Lewisham Council also states the following guidelines must be adhered to or visitors may be asked to leave:

  • Please use the sand area to enter and leave the water. Do not use the jetty – it is for canoes and paddle boards only
  • Do not jump in at any point as there may be hidden dangers underwater
  • All under-16s must be supervised by a responsible adult at all times. You are responsible for their safety and behaviour
  • Children aged 8 to 12 will be required to do a swimming test before using the lake
  • People in the main lake must be able to swim 25 metres
  • All lake users must wear the tow float provided to them at all times whilst in the lake.
  • Swimmers must not enter the boating area
  • Do not use inflatables in the lake at any time
  • Please be aware of other water users
  • Please put all litter in the bins. Let staff know if the bins are full

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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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Mail Online reports: A wild swimming venue has closed four days after a £6.8million relaunch because ‘snowflake’ parents complained the 219-year-old lake is not safe for their children.

  • Beckenham Place Park was swamped with visitors after a £6.8million relaunch
  • Ambulance had to be called on Monday after a child was rescued from the water
  • Lewisham Council said the number of visitors at the lake exceeded forecasts
  • Parents have complained claiming the venue did not have enough lifeguards 

They are erecting temporary fencing around the lake, introducing tickets for anyone visiting the lake area and making sure lifeguards are on duty whenever the water is open to swimmers.

It follows a slew of complaints from parents who said the venue didn’t have enough lifeguards, wasn’t properly signposted and got too deep too quickly.

Even though the definition of wild swimming is that it isn’t subject to the usual safety precautions.

One father-of-two said: ‘If you go to a local leisure centre, children aren’t allowed in the water unsupervised.

‘You hear stories in the summer about children and even young men who have drowned.

‘Who’s going to take responsibility when there’s another little coffin led out of there?’

Comment: In this era of learned helplessness, it’s easy to forget that we are an Island nation. Should we fence off the sea to protect hapless bathers? Or should we take responsibility for our actions and watch over our offspring?

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ITV News reports: Henleaze Swimming Club celebrates its centenary this weekend.

The club – the only one of its type in the country – was well-ahead of its time in gender equality and in the philosophy of physical mental wellness.

The club has more members than ever – in fact there’s a three year wait to join.

But the club’s fortunes have been mixed over the decades, as Rob Murphy reports…

The flooded former limestone quarry in north Bristol had been used unofficially for swimming for 15 years.

But, when two teenage boys drowned – followed by a rise in the popularity of wild swimming – the need for safety on the site helped inspire the official formation of Henleaze Swimming Club in 1919.

It was established at the end of the First World War, some of its earliest swimmers were soldiers convalescing at nearby Southmead Hospital.

The club was progressive, allowing women to be members from its infancy.

For decades gangs of children from the nearby Southmead district would break in at night, illicitly fishing, boating and swimming.

They had their own currency, some boys would catch frogs to swap for catapults or inner tubes. Eventually a large gate was put around the site.

The 1960s and 70s were darker days, where the club struggled financially. At one point it had just a few hundred members.

Henleaze Lake Summer 1989

But another surge in an interest in wild swimming helped surge its renaissance in the late 1980s and it has grown to have nearly two and a half thousand members. There is a three-year wait for full membership.

These days members can enjoy early-morning Friday swims.

And there is a 200-strong ‘Winter Dippers’ club where people swim in icy waters – wearing just swimsuits and caps.

Discover more about the clubs history: Hung Out to Dry Swimming and British Culture pages 36-7 & 145-8

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News Shopper reports: Beckenham Place Park’s new wild swimming lake will be open to the public in a matter of weeks, ready for a launch event on July 20.

The much-anticipated lake forms part of a £4.9 million project to regenerate the park – which is the largest in the borough – funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It includes a new wet woodland, play areas, BMX track, skate park, public toilets, as well as a cafe, visitor hub and education centre in the Homestead.

Lewisham Council also contributed nearly £2 million to the project, which includes a new bridge over the Ravensbourne River.

Cllr Sophie McGeevor, cabinet member for parks and recreation, said the park “looked amazing” and hoped the new lake and play areas would encourage children and their families to live more active lifestyles.

“We have just got the latest health figures for Lewisham and 38 per cent of year six pupils are overweight or obese,” she said.

“It is really important to have activities to get kids outside. There has [already] been a lot of focus on sugar and healthy eating.”

Swimmers will have to book online and pay electronically when they turn up, she said.

But there will be a free section of the lake for shallow paddling.

The lake is expected to have lifeguards over the summer but will be open all year round.

Water quality will be tested every week with the lake filled from a natural borehole.

The lake is around 285 metres long by 48 metres wide and is 3.5 metres at its deepest level.

But the project has not been without controversy, with a row breaking out in 2016 over the removal of the park’s golf course – the last public golf course in London.

A petition to keep the golf course garnered 7000 signatures.

Cllr McGeevor encouraged residents to book online for the launch event on July 20 when the link becomes available on Lewisham Council’s website over the next few days.

The full charging details have not yet been announced.


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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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Aisa One reports: With a wide view over Belcher Bay, Corie Chu and her husband often forget they’re living in a city. For this couple, the water is a relaxing tonic amid the concrete jungle of the Kennedy Town neighbourhood of Hong Kong Island, enabling them to wake up feeling amazing, Chu says.

Her experience is reflected in the findings of a groundbreaking study that spending time in and around Hong Kong’s ‘blue spaces’ – think harbours, coastlines and beaches – is linked to better health and well-being.

The study, carried out by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and Britain’s University of Exeter, found that residents with a view of water from their home report better health, while those who regularly visit blue spaces report higher well-being and a lower risk of depression.

Published in the public-health journal Health and Place, it is believed to be the first of its kind conducted in Asia. More…

See also: https://www.hungouttodry.co.uk/designed-to-swim look under COLD WATER


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