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Posts Tagged ‘Outdoor Swimming Society’

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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?

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After enjoying the wonderful facilities open to outdoor swimmers around the world, swimmers here in the UK can’t help but feel disgruntled that their liberty to swim in rivers and lakes has for many years been denied, and especially so with the scorching weather we have just been enjoying this week.

We want to go dipping but the sign says NO SWIMMING!

The good news is that things are changing. The impossible is being achieved, albeit very slowly.

The problem lies in the fact that  authorities, keen to restrict swimming in open water (for reasons  long forgotten) have truly convinced themselves that wild swimming is just too risky. Its rather like Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, in that it takes a child to point out the obvious: “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” The fact is plain to see, if swimming is OK throughout  Europe, how can it be more dangerous here?

This is not to say that its an easy thing for authorities to release their strangle hold on the swimmers freedom. If something goes wrong public opinion will want to point the finger of blame.

The good news comes from the Outdoor Swimming Society in the form of the: Inland Access Guide.

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Download a copy and its message of hope will prove better reading than the Sunday papers!

 

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Bank Holiday Monday proved to be an exceptional day at Rutland Water.

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Despite a damp start, the sun came out to play as did hundreds of children who delighted in the seaside atmosphere. Overflow carparks strained at the seams as thousands flocked to a facility encouraged and promoted by the Outdoor Swimming Society.

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They built it and they came in their thousands.

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A heartning example of what can be achieved to advance the intersets and quality of life for all.

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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 Outdoor Swimming Society has become the public face of outdoor swimming, working to promote positive attitudes and encourage tolerance. Behind the scenes the Inland Access Group have been working hard to change attitudes and perceptions among those who have the power to grant access to outdoor or wild swimmers.

The first major success was the opening of a public bathing beach at Rutland Water last year. Although it is free to swim here, a massive increase in the use of the car park is not only paying for the lifeguard cover but generating a tidy profit for Anglian Water. Swimming pools and Lidos are as a general rule only kept open by subsidy’s, but the remarkable success of this outdoor swimming attraction will give food for thought among those water authorities with as yet, a less progressive attitude.

The latest success is based on a different model. Although the Beach at Rutland Water has lifeguards, It is possible to open a bathing area without them! Sandwell Council, near Birmingham have opened Swan Pool for wild swimmers to enjoy. The information board pictured above is the result of consultation with the outdoor swimming society among others and is a clear indicator that in Sandwell tolerance is a reality. Members of the outdoor swimming society should be proud of these achievements, and of the work that is being done on their behalf.

Discover how different attitudes are in Switzerland.

Learn how prejudice towards outdoor swimming developed here in the UK.

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Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

The Leicester Mercury reports:

More than 80 firms submitted proposals to transform Soar Island as part of a competition being run by Leicester City Council and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The two-acre Soar Island is in the centre of the city’s rundown waterside area, the subject of a 15-year, £26 million regeneration plan.

It lies in a highly visible location, where the river and the Grand Union Canal meet.

Sarah Wigglesworth Architects’ design [pictured above] is inspired by low-impact living, sustainable communities and the idea of ‘a secret island to live on and play on’. It brings together narrow boat markets, micro-farming and craft workshops with open-air performance space, riverside starter homes and a floating swimming pool.

Discover the history of swimming in Leicester…

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This Girl Can

Have you seen this poster?

I am very pleased to find such a positive image of cold water outdoor swimming on posters at bus stops around Leicester.

Inspiration indeed. Well done Sport England!

Half a million women give up swimming over body image fears

Discover the rich history of British swimming

“Disappointed and Very Concerned” says Jennie Price of Sport England as swimming drops by 9%

The Evolution of British Swimming

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