Posts Tagged ‘Britain’


BBC News reports: Thousands of people are expected to take part in a two-day open water swimming festival in London’s Hyde Park.

Organiser London Marathon Events says Swim Serpentine has grown out of popular demand for an open water event held in the lake that staged the successful London 2012 swimming competitions.

Up to 6,000 people are expected to complete the mile-long (1.6km) competition, which starts at 10:00 BST on Saturday. The 5km (3.1mile) elite invitational British Open Water Swimming Championships will be held on Sunday.

Discover the history of swimming in the serpentine, read Chapter 5 of Hung Out to Dry Swimming and British Culture: Lidos Open, Rivers Close. Cover picture, Serpentine 1926.



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Robert Aspey Aqua Park Rutland Water

Rutland Water Aqua Park

If you like outdoor swimming and have traveled in Europe you’ll have been delighted to discover that swimming in rivers and lakes is very much the done thing.  When on holiday in Switzerland a couple of years ago it was obvious that everyone wanted to swim when the sun shone. Lakes in Switzerland have multiple swimming places built all around them with diving boards; pontoons and changing facilities providing opportunities for fun in the water that are convenient for all. Because of our unique history both as an Empire and as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution we find that our swimming freedoms have all but vanished, well, that is until quite recently, but astonishing things can and do happen don’t they!

Robert Aspey Rutland Water Bathing Beach

Rutland Water Bathing Beach

Swan Pool Chris Ayriss

Swan Pool Swimming Lake

Just as I was enjoying the freedom to swim in the expansive swimming area at Swan Pool (Sandwell Valley Country Park) in Birmingham at the weekend, Robert Aspey was enjoying his freedom at Rutland Water (pictures above). What’s more astonishing still is that this year a new Aqua Park with slides and play equipment in the lake itself has opened for business. Rutland Water Bathing Beach has been a tremendous success; it now looks much more like a European lake than a British one.

This development is very significant. It shows a tremendous confidence that there is money to be made from outdoor recreational swimming. As there is no charge to use the bathing beach, lifeguard costs are covered by car parking charges and an array of seaside amenities that are springing up in the beach area. To use the aqua park for 55 min’s adults and children pay £15 plus £5 to hire a life jacket and another £5 for a wet-suit if desired.

This just goes to prove what has been said all along; open an outdoor swimming beach and people will come. So with these two excellent and successful examples under our belt, just as we exit Europe we may see more opportunities to get into the swim of things.

Swim Smart

Swim Safe

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The Observer reports: Swimmers across Britain will greet the longest day by plunging into a pool tomorrow. Many will take that summer solstice dip amid the splendour of a restored public lido or municipal baths as the national appetite for preserving historic leisure facilities grows.

In Penzance, the Jubilee Pool reopened last month following a £3m repair project after storm damage in 2014. The pool, built in 1935, was first reopened in 1994 after falling into disrepair.

The new lido movement, driven by a fresh impulse to swim in the open air, has notched up a series of successful rescues. Among the star sites are south London’s Brockwell Lido, for years threatened with closure, the lido in High Wycombe, shut down in 2010, and one in Charlton, which reopened after a £2m refurbishment in 2013. In Reading, Berkshire, the team behind the restoration of Bristol’s chic Grade II-listed open-air pool at Clifton are doing extensive work on the former King’s Meadow pool, built in 1902 for women and initially fed by Thames water. It has been closed for 42 years. On the south coast, Saltdean Lido, near Brighton, was visited by communities and local government secretary Greg Clark this month to herald its restoration by 2017. Six years ago the pool was due to be filled in. More…


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The Saudi Gazette reports: Mariam Saleh Binladen, a dentist from Saudi Arabia, has set a new record as the first 20160613t182236-1465831356209230300woman to officially swim 101 miles of… the River Thames in the United Kingdom.

Swimming to inspire more women to participate in sport and to raise awareness of the plight of refugee Syrian orphans around the world, Mariam is just the third person and first woman in recent history to have successfully completed the 100+ mile open-water swimming feat. Most recently this included the British comedian and Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams, who finished the swim in 2011.

Talking about her successful swim Mariam said: “I am thrilled and very proud to be the first woman to swim 101 miles of the Thames. I wanted to show that a young woman from Saudi Arabia can achieve a lifelong ambition, whilst at the same time raise awareness to bigger causes, particularly the plight of thousands of suffering Syrian orphan refugees. I also want to encourage more women from around the world to participate in sport and show them that anything is possible. More…


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The Old Bathing Place Witney

The Oxford Mail Reports on the restoration of the site: “…as we stood there looking out over the river from the site of the original changing cubicles, the views were almost indistinguishable from photographs taken in the early years of the 20th century.”

During the restoration a number of original features were discovered, including steps leading into the river, a handrail for swimmers along the river wall, fixings for the spring board and a taller diving platform.

The concrete bases of the former changing cubicles were also discovered and a new paved area has been created to highlight their location.

Local historian Stanley Jenkins said: “It started in the 1920s and was very popular in its day. You used to have to pay thrupence to get in.

“It remained in use until the 1970s when the council built the indoor swimming pool.”

District council cabinet member for communities Richard Langridge said: “Not only is this area a great place to relax and enjoy some tranquil space in the middle of the busy town, but it also gives people the opportunity to learn about Witney’s rich history and how the town has evolved since the early 1900s.”


Why is it that in the UK outdoor swimming opportunities like this have closed whereas they remain open and alive to this day across Europe and America? It took me 10 years to find the answer…

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Head Weir, Open Air Bathing Place Exeter

Outdoor Swimming was at one time encouraged as healthy and essential exercise. Well managed and incredibly popular bathing stations like this one in Exeter were built up and down the country.  It hardly seems possible that not long after this photograph was taken our nation of outdoor swimmers found themselves chased out of open water, rounded up and confined to indoor swimming pools. River and lake swimming, once seen as so good for us, continues to be popular across Europe and America whilst here in Great Britain outdoor swimmers were pourtrayed as irresponsible. It is only in Britain that we need the Outdoor Swimming Society and the River and Lake Swimming Association to represent our interests.

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Children swimming in the river at Thetford, August 28, 1964

Children swimming in the river at Thetford, August 28, 1964

The promise of summer is just arround the corner. Did you enjoy happy summer days like this?

If you did you probably still do when you get the chance, but in the UK we are facing resistance when it comes to river and lake swimming.

No one wants a happy day to end in tragedy, but with good education – outdoor swimming can be fun.

Lets all swim safe this summer!

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