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ITV News reports: The Duke of Cambridge has suggested threatened UK swimming pools might be protected by an organisation similar to a charity he heads which safeguards green spaces.

William discussed the issue during a Buckingham Palace garden party when he chatted with senior figures from two organisations which rely heavily on pools for their activities.

The second-in-line to the throne told representatives from the English Schools Swimming Association and the British Sub-Aqua Club that he would look at an idea similar to the Fields in Trust body, he supports as president, and get back to them.

Discover the History of British Swimming

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32 Pictures from National Geographic

Artist's impression of the new lake

Lewisham’s largest green space, Beckenham Place Park, has been awarded £440,000 from Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. The award is part of the mayor of London’s push to make London the world’s first National Park City.

The funding will be used to:

  • plant thousands of new trees
  • support the restoration of the park’s Georgian lake, which will create a new wildlife habitat and be used for open water swimming.

Read more…

Discover the history of British Swimming

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.

 

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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ITV News reports: A dip in freezing water may sound an unappealing, possibly mad prospect but the Beast from the East hasn’t stopped these brave outdoor swimmers.

Cold water swimming champion Laura Nesbitt took a dip in the water at Clevedon this morning. It was minus 3 degrees in the Marine Lake but she didn’t seem to mind.

In Cornwall, a wild swimming group known as the Battery Belles and Buoys gather for a swim off the Battery Rocks in Penzance every day at 11am. The current freezing conditions hasn’t put them off. They go swimming all year round and there is never a wetsuit in sight, regardless of how cold it is.

Membership of the UK’s Outdoor Swimming Society has grown by 30 per cent a year since it was founded in 2006, and now has 25,000 members. Wild swimming – in lakes, rivers and the sea – has become a year-round lifestyle embraced by thousands.

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The BBC report: The University of Exeter Medical School and Centre for Ecology and Hydrology carried out the study.

It concluded, compared to non-sea swimmers, the likelihood of developing an earache increases by 77% and for a gastrointestinal illness rises by 29%.

As well as swimming, the risks also apply to water sports, such as surfing.

Researchers reviewed 19 studies linking sea bathing to illness from the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Norway. They analysed results from more than 120,000 people.

“In high-income countries like the UK, there is a perception that there is little risk to health of spending time in the sea,” said Dr Anne Leonard.

“However, our paper shows that spending time in the sea does increase the probability of developing illnesses, such as ear ailments and problems involving the digestive system, such as stomach ache and diarrhoea.

Dr Gaze said most people will recover from infections with no medical treatment but they can prove more serious for vulnerable people, such as the very old or very young.

He added: “We have come a long way in terms of cleaning up our waters, but our evidence shows there is still work to be done.

“We hope this research will contribute to further efforts to clean up our coastal waters.”

 

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The National reports: Robert Hamilton’s dream of an open water regulator was torpedoed by near unanimous opposition from swimmers and swimming organisations, who said they were unwanted, unnecessary and overly commercial.

Unlike in England and Wales, where laws about open swimming are unclear, in Scotland, swimmers have a right to swim freely in open spaces.

Hamilton, along with commercial pilot Stewart Griffiths and swimmer Phia Steyn, had announced plans to establish the Scottish Open Water Swimming Association (SOWSA) to “promote and grow safe open water swimming within Scotland through co-operation between relevant stakeholders and partners in the country”.

Their proposal was to gather “open water swimmers, coaches, event organisers, boat pilots, health and safety professionals, landowners, local and national tourism bodies and relevant heritage and conservation bodies into one body with the aim of promoting and growing safe open water swimming in Scotland”.

But across the country, fans of outdoor aquatics were furious at what they saw as an attempt to limit access to lochs and water, potentially resulting in swimmers being forced to cough up cash for a dip.

There was opposition too from the British Long Distance Swimming Society (BLDSA) and the Outdoor Swimming Society (OSS),

In response to a consultation set up by Hamilton’s group, OSS said: “The establishment of a self-appointed regulatory body with power over all swimming events, venues and pilots in Scotland would create a commercial monopoly that would stifle, restrict and standardise the market, and restrict rather than improve swimming in Scotland.”

A joint response to the consultation from 28 different prominent swimmers complained they had not been made aware of the consultation, and were uncomfortable with a charity representing open water swimmers being proposed by “three people who are known to be closely involved in one of the most heavily advertised commercial companies running open water events and providing services to open water swimmers in Scotland”.

Discover why wild swimmers have faced restriction in England?