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The BBC reports: Students applying to one of China’s most prestigious universities have been told they must learn to swim before they graduate.

Tsinghua University, known as the Harvard of the East, has ruled that the nation’s top minds must also prove themselves in the pool.

The news made waves on Chinese social media, with some questioning the move in a country struggling with drought.

But the university said swimming was a key survival skill.

President of Tsinghua University, Qiu Yong, said the exercise was made compulsory for all students because it also improved physical fitness.

One of China’s most highly regarded institutions, Tsinghua University first made swimming a requirement in 1919, but it was later dropped due to the university’s popularity and a lack of swimming pools in Beijing.

However, under the rules announced on Monday, new students beginning in September will have to take the plunge and demonstrate that they can swim at least 50m (164ft) using any stroke.

‘Arbitrary rules’

The announcement has been hotly debated on social media, with some questioning whether it is reasonable to expect those who grew up in inland cities to learn how to swim as adults.

“What happens to students from arid places that have no seaside or rivers?” wrote Yixunsangyao.

Another commenter, Xishuoge, wrote: “Even though it is a ‘famous university’, it shouldn’t make up arbitrary rules, as such rules could snuff out talents.”

Others, such as Shin-ssi, praised the university for promoting a “necessary skill which can save lives”, adding: “It’s a good thing for the university to emphasise this.”

Those who appeared pleased with their own abilities to swim, made light of the announcement, asking if they could enrol as students at Tsinghua University.

 

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Winter swimmers in the Czech Republic

Time reports: Czech Seniors Stay Young by Plunging Into Freezing Cold Rivers

Among the most hardy of all the cold water swimmers is the group of pensioners who meet twice a week, whatever the weather, throughout the year in an old railway wagon at the bank of the Labe River in Pardubice, near a section of the river where the water is less than 20 meters deep.

For these senior citizens, some of whom are in their late eighties, plunging into freezing temperatures has its benefits. “Cold water swimming is as much a challenge as it is a health strategy,” Radek Kalhous, a photographer who has been capturing candid images of the swimmers, told TIME. ” It improves heart activity, vessel elasticity and the immune system in general.”

According to Kalhouse, the pensioners who swim in the Labe are hardly ever ill. “They are brimming with energy and optimism,” he said. “Local clubs are full of friends and the community is still growing. Cold water swimming is not just sport for them. It’s their lifestyle.”

According to Kalhouse, the pensioners who swim in the Labe are hardly ever ill. “They are brimming with energy and optimism,” he said. “Local clubs are full of friends and the community is still growing. Cold water swimming is not just sport for them. It’s their lifestyle.” More…

Discover where you can swim in Prague:

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The New – Can I swim here? app…

Stuff.co.nz reports: Swimmers in New Zealand are now able to check online or via a new app to see if the beach or river they want to visit has clean swimming water.

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Regular testing at times when swimmers most often frequent bathing places, make this real-time information invaluable, setting a new standard of transparency for swimmers living in or visiting the country. More…

 

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Hindustan Times reports: Swimming, racquet sports and aerobics are associated with the best odds of staving off death, and in particular of reducing the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke, scientists said…

… research, published in the British Journal and Sports Medicine …analysed data from 11 annual health surveys for England and Scotland carried out between 1994 and 2008, covering 80,306 adults with an average age of 52. Participants were asked about what type and how much exercise they had done in the preceding four weeks, and whether it had been enough to make them breathless and sweaty.

Exercise included heavy domestic chores and gardening; walking; cycling; swimming; aerobics, gymnastics or dance; running; football or rugby; and badminton, tennis or squash. The survival of each participant was tracked for an average of nine years, during which time 8,790 of them died from all causes and 1,909 from heart disease or stroke.

In death from heart disease and stroke, the study found racquet sports players had a 56% lower risk, with 41% for swimming and 36% for aerobics, compared with those who did not participate in these sports.

Chico said …“I will continue to tell my patients that regular physical activity… is more effective in reducing their risk of heart disease than any drug I can prescribe.”

Despite the benefits of swimming the number of participants in the UK continues to drop.

Discover the full story: Hung Out to Dry Swimming and British Culture

 

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The Mirror reports: “Almost seven in 10 of bathing sites in England now meet ‘excellent’ standard set out by the EU…”

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In 2016, 287 beaches and inland swimming sites in the country met the tough top standards set out in the European Union’s Bathing Water Directive (69.5%), and 407 out of the 413 spots assessed passed the minimum grade.

But six bathing waters failed to meet even minimum standards: Scarborough South Bay, Yorkshire; Clacton (Groyne 41), Essex; Walpole Bay, Margate, Kent; Instow, Devon; Ilfracombe Wildersmouth, Devon; and Burnham Jetty North, Somerset.

The figures, which look at results for water quality over the last four years, are an improvement on 2015, the first year of results under the new EU system , when 63.6% of beaches met excellent standards.

This is partly due to improvements being made in infrastructure at or near bathing sites in recent years, which has helped reduce pollution and cut levels of harmful bacteria in swimming spots that can make people ill.

But this year’s figures are also better than 2015 because of more favourable weather conditions.

Better weather reduces the risk of overflows from sewers and storm drains and the amount of urban and agricultural pollutants washing down to the sea when there is heavy rainfall.

The 2015 results include the very wet summer of 2012, which saw water quality at bathing sites drop.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “England’s bathing waters are enjoyed by millions of people every year, which is why I am delighted the water quality at our beaches and lakes is better than at any time since before the Industrial Revolution. More…

 

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The ASA reports: A new group has been set up to investigate the links between swimming and health, and demonstrate just how good swimming is for you. The Health Commission for Swimming is an independent group made up of experts from across the health and physical activity sectors. Set up as a response to Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation, the group will explore current research around health and swimming, and provide evidence on how swimming positively impacts on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Ian Cumming, Health Education England Chief Executive and Level 3 swimming coach, will chair the Commission group. He said: “Over the last six months there has been a distinct shift in the national debate about the value of physical activity and the contribution it can make to the health of the nation.

“Swimming is unique; anyone can do it regardless of age, ability or health condition. It is the only physical activity that can be done from birth right through to older age, and with over 16 million people swimming at least once a month, it is well-placed to respond to many of the country’s key health and social concerns.

“We already know that just 30 minutes of swimming each week can significantly benefit general levels of health and wellbeing. This new Commission group will seek to identify and conclusively demonstrate how swimming can help combat a range of health conditions within the population.” Read more…

Comment: With much in the news lately about the hidden risks associated with swimming pools perhaps outdoor swimming will be considered as a healthy alternative.

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Australia’s Lake Parramatta Attracts 12,000

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The Sun Parramatta Holroyd reports:  The first full summer season of swimming at Lake Parramatta attracted 12,000 visitors between October 31 and March 13, according to the Australian Lifeguard Service.

Swimming was re-introduced to the lake for the first time in more than 70 years last year as part of the Parramatta River Catchment Group’s ‘Our Living River’ campaign to return swimming to the river by 2025.

“Lake Parramatta has been a popular spot for swimming since January last year and I’m sure it will continue to be for many summers to come,” Parramatta lord mayor Paul Garrard said.

The water temperature throughout the season ranged from a comfortable 20 to 27°C, well within safe swimming guidelines.

Bacteria levels were good outside of the rain periods.

While lifeguards won’t return to the lake until October, it remains open for swimming all year round.

It’s recommended people don’t swim for three days after heavy rain due to water quality concerns.

Lake Parramatta, North Parramatta NSW 2151, Australia

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