Posts Tagged ‘Recreation’

The Bulletin reports: Wild and wet: Where to find the best natural swimming spots in Belgium. Fans of wild swimming need to head out of the capital to enjoy the pleasure of cool, non-chlorinated water.

Recreation Park De Ster







Grand Large, Mons
For the first time in many years, swimming will be authorised at the city’s lake this summer. Up to now bathing has been forbidden due to the danger of passing boats and barges. Extensive facilities at the site include a marina, renovated club house and indoor and outdoor pools. Alternatively, one of the best places for freshwater swimming in Hainaut province is Godarville lake at Chapelle-lez-Herlaimont, between Charleroi and La Louvière. Part of the Claire-Fontaines domain and relaxation centre, it offers a range of water sports and is a paradisiacal spot when the sun shines. Both sites are accessible by public transport.

Bloso Domein Hofstade




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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 Leicester Mercury reports: A 100-metre slip’n’slide will be helping to raise money for the Loros hospice at a family event this summer. The popular ride will be at this year’s Family Fun Day at Leicester Racecourse on Sunday, August 7.

Loros fundraising co-ordinator Laura Fitzsawyer said: “Slip’n’slides are brilliant fun and we wantedLOROS to do one to raise money for the hospice.

“Leicester Racecourse have always been really supportive of us and we asked them about putting on an event with a slip’n’slide and they said we should bring one to the Family Fun Day, which is great because there should be in the region of about 10,000 people there.”

Visitors with swimming costumes will be able to pay £3 for a single go on the slip’n’slide or £8 to have three goes. The real enthusiasts can pay £10 and get to slide all day long.

The Family Fun Day will take place between 10am and 4pm and there will be horses taking part in flat racing on the day, as well as pony rides, stilt walkers, fire displays, face-painting and some superhero visitors.

And if the slip’n’slide isn’t enough for adrenalin junkies, there will also be a bungee run, a gladiator arena, jousting, an activity castle and a fun run.

Entry to the Family Fun Day will be free for children and cost £15 for adults. More…


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The Connection reports: Swimming in the Seine could become a reality in the next year as mayor Anne Hidalgo has launched a 43-point plan to clean up the Paris river.

Aiming to make the Seine a focal point if the city wins the 2024 Olympic Games, she wants to “improve the water quality” and open up the Bassin de la Villette for swimmers next year.

Swimming has been banned on the river since 1923 except by special permit and the last major event to be held on the Seine was the Paris Triathlon in 2012. However, that year a competitor died after falling ill in the water and the next planned event, with 3,000 swimmers, was banned by the prefecture. More…

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SHUT OUT: Residents of Rileys Hill are upset and angry that public access to the popular swimming hole will be closed after a decision by Crown Lands to fence the perimeter.

The Northern Star reports: YOUNG families at Rileys Hill near Broadwater are angry their favorite swimming hole will no longer be accessible after the Department of Primary Industries decided to fence an historic quarry adjacent to the village.

First created in the late 1800s to supply stone for the Ballina breakwall, the pit flooded suddenly in 1911, trapping quarrying equipment at its base and creating a delightful swimming hole that has provided pleasure for generations.

Excellent swimming hole

Many families moved to the village of Rileys Hill because they knew the flooded quarry would provide some respite from summer heat.

But now it seems swimming in old quarries is a pastime deemed too dangerous to public health and as a result the DPI – Lands is erecting a 1.8m chain-linked fence right around the entire perimeter.

Too dangerous to swim, they say.

According to a DPI-Lands spokesman public access is ‘prohibited due to safety hazards at the dormant quarry’.

“This is clearly stated in site signage,” explained the spokesman. “However, some members of the public continue to access the site and put their own safety at risk despite the signage.”

While there have been injuries and deaths at other quarries on the Northern Rivers, the DPI-Lands spokesman said the fencing project was not ordered as a result of those unfortunate accidents.

“This action is based on a safety audit and review of environmental factors at the quarry and is not related to incidents elsewhere,” the spokesman said.

Quarry vs Beach

Rileys Hill resident Angelique Walsh said her greatest concern was the obvious cost of the project and the irony that it would be closed to the public while a children’s park by the river at Woodburn, or even the dry dock at Rileys Hill – next to the river – remained unfenced. “I would much rather my children swim in this quarry than at the beach with sharks,” she said.

Some parents voiced concern that the closure of the quarry could even affect the value of their homes and properties, which were sold to them with the understanding that the swimming hole was within walking distance. There was also outrage that any opportunity for fun that involved risk was now being closed off to the next generation of children. “Measures like these are actually stunting children’s growth,” said Angelique. More…

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Beccles River Bathing Place 1905

Highlights and Early History of River Bathing at Beccles

Test your knowledge at the end!

1862 WARNING: To Bathers. All persons who are found bathing in the RIVER WAVENEY between the Smelt House and 200 yards below Beccles Bridge after 9 o’clock in the morning, will be PROSECUTED according to law.

1867 COUNCIL: Public Bathing Place suggested.
1873 Saw the purchase of the Old Granary on the banks of the river Waveney in Puddingmoor for the sum of £300. The building was to be used as a dressing room for people bathing in the river. This was the beginning of the history of organised Outdoor Swimming in Beccles. The old bathing place still much used.
1874 Council: Bathing Place should be made deeper. 200 a day used it when very warm; 100 when cooler; 50 a day now (September).
1875 Ladies to have special time for using Bathing Place.
1881 BATHING PLACE: (LETTER): Some years ago a spot about 300 yards up the river was the only recognised place for bathing, but it was hampered by a halfpenny fine to reach it, for ferrying across the river. There was difficulty about getting a right of way to the Bathing place. The Corporation decided upon making a new bathing place. They purchased propertyalongside the river, but unfortunately a bungle was made of the scheme, and the outcome was an old granary fitted up in rough and ready style, and a limited quantity of enclosed water. This was all very well for youngsters learning to swim, but the grand mistake was in ignoring the large number of persons who can swim, and to whom it is no pleasure to be contained to a small breadth of filthy water. The old bathing place is still used by many who desire to enjoy a wholesome bathe. A better spot could not be found for miles around. Until within the last two or three years the ground shelved gradually down to the middle of the river, which is deep, free from weeds, and suitable in every respect for the swimmer. Now holes have been dredged in the shallow side, and it is positively dangerous. Only the other morning a lad, trying to swim, got into one of these holes and was nearly drowned.
1894 108 yards of the river frontage was cordoned off and enclosed with and post and plank fence. The planking was fixed to stout posts, driven firmly into the bed of the river, a gap below the fence allowed the flow to change the depth of water. Cubicles were built for changing rooms: one set for ladies and one for the gentlemen separated by a large communal changing room for youth and boys. For girls there were six or eight wooden huts.
1895 NEW BATHING PLACE used by 30,000 bathers this Summer. Never before has there been such a run on the place as a result of the long and hot summer.
River Bathing Place Beccles
 1922 The Town Council agree to allot separate hours to schools for children’s swimming lessons. The Council also agreed to the installation of 3 spring boards with the centre one to be made rigid (no longer in existence). 1930s The entry fee was 2d for Adults and 1d for children.

1959 Construction of a new Bathing Place adjacent to the old one began and was completed in the same year. The result is what remains today; Beccles Outdoor Swimming Pool.

Diving Boards at Beccles Bathing Place

1975 Saw the installation of Heating for the Pool.

The Swimming Pool at Beccles

1976 “Beccles Swimming Pool is one of the town’s most popular summer sporting attractions providing not only a pleasant riverside leisure spot for local people and holiday visitors alike but also valuable service as a place where people can learn to swim..” For more information click here…


Questions to consider…

When the Romans occupied Britain they built bathing places countrywide. Why did these close, and why was bathing and swimming then discouraged for centuries? (see Hung Out to Dry p 11, 14-16, 41-43)

In 1862 why was it OK to bathe in the river before 9.00 am, but why did you face prosecuted for bathing after 9.00? (see Hung Out to Dry p 7, 96)

Why fence off the river for bathers? (see Hung Out to Dry p 23-24, 119)

Why build a Lido when river bathing was so popular? (see Hung Out to Dry p 129)

Why since then have Lidos closed one after another, and why do those that remain struggle to keep their heads above water? (see Hung Out to Dry p 33-34)

Enjoy find the answers here…

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From a modern perspective swimming was a very British sport. After years or religious and superstitious suppression it was in Britain that swimming reemerged as an acceptable, desirable pastime.

With the birth of the industrial revolution social changes forced swimmers away from their birthright, out of rivers and lakes and into man-made enclosures.

No Swimming at Sparth

No Swimming at Sparth

Even so swimmers were allowed a great deal of freedom indoors, but even these freedoms have now been eroded. Over time the fun of the indoor pool has been quashed by officialdom, our diving boards have been sacrificed to the god of health and safety and many of the social attractions have disappeared.

Kenwood Lido Leicester

Kenwood Lido

The once playful outdoor activity mostly enjoyed by working class boys, has now evolved into a predominantly female sport.

A lack of splashing, jumping and diving means the the rough and tumble years are over. Warm water, private changing rooms and a much calmer atmosphere have meant a decline in male bathers and an upsurge in female swimmers now comprising 64% of the swimming population.

If walking is excluded, swimming remains the number one participation sport in Britain. Sport England’s Active People Survey shows that participation in football continues to decrease from 4.97% to 4.33% of the population with 94% of participants are male. Yet swimming being the number one participation sport is no reason for complacency, swimming still has a very low participation rate.

Only 8.04% of the adult (16+) population swim once a week.

With tighter budgets and a challenging economy what can be done to promote British swimming?

First take a look at how Sport England fund each sport by participant: £38 each for football, £16 for cycling, £11 for athletics but only £8 for swimming, so funding is certainly one issue.

Swimming pools cost a considerable amount of money to build, staff and maintain, yet much could be done to bolster their income. Swimming has always been a social activity, so capitalizing on this much neglected area is one way forward.

Stamford Meadows Bathing Place

Operating a cafe on site that provides a welcoming, quality, value for money meeting place, makes swimming pools much more popular. 

Diving and other sports could be taught and encouraged even if only from the poolside. An ASK ME! tee-shirt could be worn by lifeguards so that swimmers young and old feel encouraged to improve their skills.

Pictures of outdoor swimming in rivers lakes and at the seaside would inspire youngsters to learn to swim well.

The swimming pool should be seen as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Like schools they are their to inspire their pupils to reach their full potential. A swimmer can never reach his or her full potential in captivity.

The ASA and Sport England are in the driving seat for British swimming. Either they promote swimming or allow it to decline, the future is in their hands!

Discover the rich history of British swimming.

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