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Sports Management reports: People see swimming as lacking relevance to their lives, and lacking visibility in comparison to other sports. These are barriers that the sport is working to overcome, according to Swim England CEO Jane Nickerson.

Asked what the major challenges affecting participation are, and how these are being tackled, she said: “We undertook research into the key challenges. Firstly, it’s a lack of confidence in swimming ability. In order to combat this, we’re utilising a significant amount of resources to ensure all 11-year-old children leave school able to swim 25m, are competent in multiple strokes and can perform a safe self-rescue.

“Secondly, swimming is seen as lacking relevance to people’s lives. We’re working to overcome this barrier by showing people the benefits of swimming and how it can fit into their busy lives, and by working with partners to ensure programmes are in place that will attract different audiences.

“Swimming is a ‘hidden sport’, not as visible as football, cycling and running, for example. We have worked with partners to increase the sport’s visibility, and various media campaigns have supported this work. The #LoveSwimming campaign, supported by 12 industry partners, promotes swimming and the specific benefits of being active in water.”

Discover how and why swimmers were chased out of open water and hidden from public view.

To read the full interview, see Issue 2 2019 of Sports Management here

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Glasgow Live reports: We chart the evolution of swimming from the River Clyde to the public and private baths that sprung up across the city.

In the 18th century, long before the appearance of swimming baths in the city, swimming as a leisure pursuit was practiced by plenty of Glaswegians in the most obvious place – the River Clyde.

Its popularity among the working classes was down to the easy access afforded to the river, alongside the obvious fact that is was both an activity without cost and killed two birds with one stone in that it was both refreshing and a way to ensure personal cleanliness.

Another reason for success of informal river swimming in the city was the formation of the Glasgow Humane Society in 1790 (the oldest continuing lifeboat service in the UK) – which helped to bring down the number of drownings that were occurring.

The construction of a boat house and a room with life saving equipment reduced the risks involved in taking to the Clyde along with it, as well as the introduction of a life saving officer working out of the boat house and rewards for people who helped people who had gotten into difficulty on the river.

But with fatalities continuing the Council decided to take it upon themselves to build facilities at the river to try and ensure people would bathe at the same (safe)  location.

Not that it mattered much post 1850 – as the increase in river traffic and the move by industries to secure locations next to the Clyde, alongside the polluting of the river, practically put a halt to the popular Glasgow pasttime.

While the Council also passed a law prohibiting river bathing in certain (dangerous) areas and used local police to strictly enforce a rule limiting the amount of flesh you could display as you took a dip.

Things began to change with the opening of an opening air facility in Alexandra park in Dennistoun in 1877 form the summer months and an increase in national (and local) concern for general public health.

Prior to that, one of the first indoor swimming and bathing facilities for the public to use was situated up in the Blythswood area from which Bath Street gets its name.

Constructed by businessman William Harley (who made his money in the cotton trade), the lavish setup and social facilities attempted to attract the upper echelons of Glasgow society.

But it struggled to do so in a time where physical exercise wasn’t regarded as necessary (especially in a 12 hour, six day a week industrial working day) and where few people could swim – coupled with the hard fact that Glaswegians loved a ‘bevvy’ and a bet couldn’t do either in the confines of the swimming pool.

But with renewed interest in swimming in the 1870s into the 20th century, ten indoor swimming pools were constructed in the city (five public and five private), such as North Woodside Pool in 1882 – the oldest public pool in operation today.

Private baths such as the still-standing Arlington Baths proved popular given that the upper levels of society had begun to enjoy making trips to seaside resorts outside of the city on the West Coast and the fact that they offered swimming lessons to members.

Figures show that in 1900, male Glaswegians made 475,000 trips to public swimming pools, with that figure rising to over 700,000 by 1914. Compare that to 30,000 females visiting public baths in 1900 increasing to 100,000 in 1914.

A by-product of the increase in swimming was the rise in popularity in Glasgow of competitive swimming both in participating and as a spectator. With clubs springing up across the city – numbering 109 in 1914.

Cut to today and with Glaswegians more keen on staying fit and active than ever before, we remain pretty much spoilt for choice with 12 public swimming pools to choose from at sites such as Scotstoun, The Gorbals, Tollcross and Maryhill, as well as a handful of private baths.

Enough to ensure both that, like in years gone by, residents are never too far away from their nearest pool and that our love affair with going for a wee dip remains as strong as ever – although doing so in the River Clyde is well and truly a thing of the past!

Discover swimming history in your region…

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these children have to travel by plane to get to their swimming lessons

The Irish News reports: Three children have to take a flight from a remote Scottish island so they can learn to swim.

Freyja Parnaby, six, Grace Parnaby, nine, and Lewis Wright-Stanners, nine, regularly travel from the Fair Isle to Shetland for their lessons.

Each time they face the potential that their flight home may be cancelled due to adverse weather, leaving them stranded on the mainland.

The children, from Fair Isle Primary School, take the 25-minute flight with their head teacher Ruth Stout, funded by the education department.

Watch the Video

Fair Isle – home to 60 people – is the most geographically remote inhabited island in the United Kingdom.

 

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Channel News Asia reports: After nearly half a century navigating Bangladesh’s thousands of kilometres of rivers, the country’s most celebrated swimmer has hung up his trunks – but not before one final, arduous paddle upstream.

Kshitindra Baisya, 67, plans to spend his retirement on dry land inspiring younger generations to embrace the water in a country criss-crossed by huge rivers but where few swim.

“I didn’t have much idea about the beauty of this country until I swam dozens of its rivers,” Baisya told AFP.

A veteran of Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war against Pakistan, Baisya taught himself to swim at 18 and before long was paddling marathon distances along murky channels.

A decade later, the father-of-two earned some notoriety when he swam 74km of India’s Bhagirathi river.

He opts for a methodical breaststroke, head above water, rather than the freestyle preferred by purists.

“It helps preserve energy,” he told AFP as he stretched before a dip in a Dhaka pond recently.

Baisya has not broken any speed records – but his self-taught technique has allowed him to cover vast distances solo during a career unrivalled in Bangladesh.

“I am addicted to swimming. Everyday, I swim three to four hours,” he said.

Always eschewing the pool, Baisya prefers to swim along Bangladesh’s lengthy river networks – more than 700 channels draining south into the mighty Bay of Bengal.

He has never strayed from a winning formula of yoga, basic exercise and a humble diet complemented with dates and bananas for energy.

“DARING ATTEMPT”

But as he approached 70, the veteran swimmer knew it was time to call it a day – but not before one last triumph.

Baisya had always wanted to swim the Bhugai, Kangsha and Maghra rivers in Bangladesh’s north – uninterrupted and in one long slog.

He had a crack in 2017 but fell short, before returning to try again one last time in September.

Tailed by a support canoe and fans lining the riverbanks shouting his name, Baisya swam 185km in an unbroken 61-hour marathon – a possible record for someone of his age, organisers said.

Apart from the sheer distance – and fighting fatigue as he swam through two consecutive days and nights – Baisya had to negotiate polluted stretches of river that irritated his skin.

“It was a difficult task as the water was almost stagnant due to a lack of monsoon rains. On top of that, parts of these rivers were polluted, with garbage floating around,” he said.

On Sep 5, at around 8pm (1400 GMT), Baisya crossed the finishing line with thousands cheering him on.

He was taken to hospital for health checks but was declared fighting fit – allowing organisers to breathe a sigh of relief.

“We were tense,” said Aditi Bhusan, one of those monitoring the epic swim.

“He was quite old to make such a daring attempt. But he was very stubborn, and mentally strong.”

Organisers said Baisya had become the oldest swimmer on record to cross such a distance – further even than Diana Nyad, an American who in 2013 crossed 165.7km of the Florida Straits at the age of 64. They are seeking to get this record confirmed.

He has attracted attention overseas, with the World Open Water Swimming Association naming Baisya a candidate for their ‘performance of the year’ award.

Baisya was a “worthy nominee” for “pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the open water at an advanced age”, the California-based association said.

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LEAVING A LEGACY

His swansong done and dusted, Baisya has turned his attention to another lifelong pursuit – getting young Bangladeshis into the water.

It is no easy feat in a country where few children can swim and 18,000 drown every year – nearly 50 a day on average.

The dangers are part of everyday life in Bangladesh, a delta nation where around a quarter of the 160 million population live by the sea.

But Baisya hopes his determination and love of the water will inspire others to take the plunge.

“I truly hope young swimmers will be motivated by watching what I do at this age,” he said.

Visit the Hung Out to Dry website

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The Telegraph reports: From an Edwardian swimming sensation to the women who built Waterloo Bridge, fine-art photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten is recreating some of the most dramatic episodes of the Thames’ past.

Since she took the first picture for her ongoing series Old Father Thames, Fullerton-Batten, now 48, has raked the entire length of the river – 215 miles from its source in the Cotswolds to its marshy mouth near Sheerness and Southend – for 18 images, so far, recreating ‘true but extraordinary stories’.

The time in 1814, for instance, when, during a frost fair, an elephant was led across the frozen river alongside Blackfriars Bridge. Or the vaudeville actress who swam from Putney to Blackwall (a distance of 17 miles) in 1905, wearing a bathing suit she had improvised from a pair of tights and a men’s swimsuit (it was that, more than her athletic feat, which grabbed the headlines and two years later she was arrested for wearing it in Boston, on grounds of indecency). More…

Discover where we used to swim in London: Indoors Outdoors

 

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ITV.com Reports: The 33-year-old was joined for the final kilometre of his 1,791-mile, 157-day Great British Swim around the mainland by 400 fellow swimmers in Margate on Sunday.

Edgley left the Kent town on June 1, swimming in a clockwise direction, and his arrival on the beach at 8.40am was his first time on dry land since then.

Swimming up to 12 hours a day, including through the night, he has battled strong tides and currents in cold water, storms, jellyfish and swimming into the chilly autumn.

His efforts have taken their toll on his body, including shoulder pain and wetsuit chafing, plus salt water exposure.

Edgley’s odyssey was compared from the outset to the feat of Captain Matthew Webb, who in 1875 became the first person to swim the English Channel.

But, while more than 1,900 swimmers have since made the crossing, few are likely to follow in Edgley’s wake. Fifty-seven of the swimmers who joined him on Sunday morning have swum the Channel.

Edgley was accompanied by Cornish sailor Matthew Knight, supporting from his catamaran Hecate.

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The Derry Journal Reports: A ban on swimming at Portmore Pier in Malin Head has been met with anger and calls for it to be lifted.

A sign was recently erected at the pier by Donegal County Council, which warns users of the slipway and slippery surface and issues a warning that states: ‘No Swimming.’

Portmore (Port Mor) Pier is a popular destination for both locals and holiday makers, many from Derry, who regularly swim there, particularly during the summer months.

Swimming lessons for children have also been taking place there for almost 50 years.

Ali Farren, who is from Malin Head and owns Ardmalin Caravan Park, questioned the council’s decision and lack of public consultation.

Mr Farren said people are aware of the dangers of swimming, but did not agree with an all-out ban at Malin Head pier.

He said: “A sign saying: ‘Swim at your own risk,’ would be enough. We’ve had people learning to swim here for generations. Irish Water Safety held their week here during the summer and Splash Swimming put on two extra weeks of lessons. But what insurance company is going to cover anyone now to provide swimming lessons there? I recommend to so many people that they go and swim at the pier. I can’t do that now without making myself liable. The pier is a tourism provider, locally. It’s our water park and it’s the hub of our community.”

Mr Farren pointed out how Malin Head is a “marine community.”

He said: “We depend on our young people learning to swim and to be safe. Our nearest public pools are in Derry and Letterkenny.”

In response to the ban, Donegal County Council said: “Portmore pier is one of the busiest piers in the control of Donegal County Council in terms of fishing activity. We are trying to indicate and inform the public of all the hazards they are likely to encounter at the piers. Portmore pier is not a suitable location for swimming simply due to the movement of fishing boats along the pier and that is why the sign indicates “no swimming” This refers to the pier only and not surrounding area.” Read more on this story…

See also: Could Health and Safety be Drowning Us by Accident?

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Discover attitudes in Switzerland

 

 

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