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Posts Tagged ‘wild swimming’

Culture clash! Click the image below and see for yourself the contrast between British and Swiss culture when it comes to outdoor swimming.

Wild Swimming Gunton Switzerland

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Artist's impression of the new lake

Lewisham’s largest green space, Beckenham Place Park, has been awarded £440,000 from Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. The award is part of the mayor of London’s push to make London the world’s first National Park City.

The funding will be used to:

  • plant thousands of new trees
  • support the restoration of the park’s Georgian lake, which will create a new wildlife habitat and be used for open water swimming.

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Discover the history of British Swimming

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ITV News reports: A dip in freezing water may sound an unappealing, possibly mad prospect but the Beast from the East hasn’t stopped these brave outdoor swimmers.

Cold water swimming champion Laura Nesbitt took a dip in the water at Clevedon this morning. It was minus 3 degrees in the Marine Lake but she didn’t seem to mind.

In Cornwall, a wild swimming group known as the Battery Belles and Buoys gather for a swim off the Battery Rocks in Penzance every day at 11am. The current freezing conditions hasn’t put them off. They go swimming all year round and there is never a wetsuit in sight, regardless of how cold it is.

Membership of the UK’s Outdoor Swimming Society has grown by 30 per cent a year since it was founded in 2006, and now has 25,000 members. Wild swimming – in lakes, rivers and the sea – has become a year-round lifestyle embraced by thousands.

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The BBC report: The University of Exeter Medical School and Centre for Ecology and Hydrology carried out the study.

It concluded, compared to non-sea swimmers, the likelihood of developing an earache increases by 77% and for a gastrointestinal illness rises by 29%.

As well as swimming, the risks also apply to water sports, such as surfing.

Researchers reviewed 19 studies linking sea bathing to illness from the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Norway. They analysed results from more than 120,000 people.

“In high-income countries like the UK, there is a perception that there is little risk to health of spending time in the sea,” said Dr Anne Leonard.

“However, our paper shows that spending time in the sea does increase the probability of developing illnesses, such as ear ailments and problems involving the digestive system, such as stomach ache and diarrhoea.

Dr Gaze said most people will recover from infections with no medical treatment but they can prove more serious for vulnerable people, such as the very old or very young.

He added: “We have come a long way in terms of cleaning up our waters, but our evidence shows there is still work to be done.

“We hope this research will contribute to further efforts to clean up our coastal waters.”

 

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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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The New Zealand Herald reports: A just-launched index has revealed New Zealand’s best and worst swimming spots – with some popular sites listed as no-go zones among almost 700 rivers, lakes, and beaches.

The updated LAWA (Land, Air, Water Aotearoa) website now features an online tool that lets people check on their local spots before they head for a dip.

The project is a partnership between 16 regional councils, the Ministry for the Environment and the Cawthron Institute.

Among around 40 spots currently listed as “unsuitable for swimming” was the pools at the top of Gisborne’s famous Rere Rockslide and 10 beach sites in Auckland.

“With the information on ‘Can I swim here?’ people can swim in our great outdoors with confidence this summer.”

Some councils also provided point-of-entry signs at popular sites, and swimmers should take notice and follow their instructions… more…

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The Medical Express reports: Keeping young children away from perceived risky activities such as wild outdoor swimming is damaging, according to education expert Dr Sandra Leaton Gray (UCL Institute of Education).

Writing in her book ‘Invisibly Blighted: the digital erosion of childhood’ Leaton Gray says, “Heavily supervised young children of today may simply be more likely to drown as youths because they don’t go swimming very often and their water safety awareness is low, compared to that of children who swim frequently under less supervision.”

She will present her paper, ‘How risky is it to be a child?’ at the British Educational Research Association (BERA) conference this week.

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The Times reports: Children should be encouraged to enjoy “wild” swimming in rivers, lakes and reservoirs to learn about risk, according to an education expert.

Sandra Leaton Gray, a senior lecturer at the Institute of Education, University College London, said young people were being deterred from dipping into waters that were safe by unnecessary “no swimming” signs.

She said the growing aversion to risk was not always backed by accident statistics: “We are banning swimming in more and more places, and by doing so, making it more dangerous for the very young people we are trying to protect.

“Swimming has become an approved activity run by local authorities in special places, which are almost always heavily chlorinated swimming pools, with strict session times.”

There were 17 deaths by drowning of young people aged 10 to 19 in outside waters — including lakes, ponds and rivers — in England in 2015.

Leaton Gray, a keen wild swimmer herself, said supervised swimming in rivers and lakes would help reduce the risk and the numbers of lives lost.

She said: “Young people gather in all sorts of dodgy spots that wild swimmers would never venture into and then start taking serious risks without being properly aware of the consequences.”

Leaton Gray, who is giving a presentation on children and risk at the British Educational Research Association Conference in Brighton this week, said attitudes to swimming reflected a trend of children being given less freedom to roam and take risks than in previous generations.

The Health and Safety Executive has also said that “no children will learn about risk if they are wrapped in cotton wool”. It says outdoor play may have some hazards but teaches children how to deal with risk.

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