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ITV News reports: Henleaze Swimming Club celebrates its centenary this weekend.

The club – the only one of its type in the country – was well-ahead of its time in gender equality and in the philosophy of physical mental wellness.

The club has more members than ever – in fact there’s a three year wait to join.

But the club’s fortunes have been mixed over the decades, as Rob Murphy reports…

The flooded former limestone quarry in north Bristol had been used unofficially for swimming for 15 years.

But, when two teenage boys drowned – followed by a rise in the popularity of wild swimming – the need for safety on the site helped inspire the official formation of Henleaze Swimming Club in 1919.

It was established at the end of the First World War, some of its earliest swimmers were soldiers convalescing at nearby Southmead Hospital.

The club was progressive, allowing women to be members from its infancy.

For decades gangs of children from the nearby Southmead district would break in at night, illicitly fishing, boating and swimming.

They had their own currency, some boys would catch frogs to swap for catapults or inner tubes. Eventually a large gate was put around the site.

The 1960s and 70s were darker days, where the club struggled financially. At one point it had just a few hundred members.

Henleaze Lake Summer 1989

But another surge in an interest in wild swimming helped surge its renaissance in the late 1980s and it has grown to have nearly two and a half thousand members. There is a three-year wait for full membership.

These days members can enjoy early-morning Friday swims.

And there is a 200-strong ‘Winter Dippers’ club where people swim in icy waters – wearing just swimsuits and caps.

Discover more about the clubs history: Hung Out to Dry Swimming and British Culture pages 36-7 & 145-8

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In the UK, news services feature saftey warnings warning swimmers to stay out of open waters.  Contrast attitudes at home with this refreshing advice from Switzerland.

The Local reports: Switzerland is blessed with a huge variety of lakes and rivers that are perfect for bathing in. But with a number of fatal incidents already hitting the news this summer, we look at the best way to swim in safety.

Following the tragic death of Swiss footballer Florijana Ismaili in Lake Como, Italy, and the deaths of two men in separate incidents this week – one in Wohlen lake in canton Bern, and another in Hallwil lake in Aargau – it’s only too clear how quickly a swim in the great outdoors can go wrong.
The Swiss Lifesaving Society (SLRG) is one of the bodies in Switzerland working to prevent swimming accidents. According to them, there are a few simple rules which should be followed to help keep you safe in the water.
Supervise children
Swimming with little ones? Only allow children near water if they are supervised – and always keep them within arm’s reach.
Avoid alcohol
Never go into the water if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You should also avoid swimming if you have a full stomach, or indeed a very empty stomach.
Go slow
Never jump into the water if you’re feeling overheated. As much as you’re desperate to cool down, get in slowly to allow your body time to adjust to the water and avoid cold water shock, a potentially fatal condition.
Avoid the unknown
Don’t dive into cloudy water or in an area of the lake that you don’t know. It might not be deep enough, or there may be obstacles or other hidden dangers.
Leave the airbed on shore
If you’re heading into deep water, don’t use an airbed or swimming aid, since they offer little protection and might give you a false sense of security.
Swim with a friend
You may consider yourself a strong swimmer, but it’s best to never swim long distances alone. Even the best swimmers can experience a moment of weakness.
Keep an eye on the weather
Don’t ever swim in a storm, and leave the water immediately if you see one approaching. Many Swiss lakes have a warning system of flashing lights to indicate that you should get off the water straight away.
Stick to designated areas
Don’t go swimming in areas of a lake where there are boats, ferries or other vehicles – it’s best to stick to the designated swimming areas.
If you stick to the rules and use common sense, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the wonderful array of places to swim in Switzerland this summer, whether it be a drift down the Aare river, a dip in Lake Geneva or a swim off the rocks in the beautiful Verzasca valley.

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The Times and Star report: A PARTICULARLY invasive form of weed which is threatening plants and wildlife in the Lake District is finally getting wider attention.

There is a danger that New Zealand pigmyweed – described by the National Trust as “the scourge of Derwentwater” – could spread to other, none-infested lakes.

Jessie Binns, who works for the National Trust as a visitor experience manager (North Lakes patch), said: “That’s what we are particularly worried about – if it got into lakes like Crummock it could start to threaten our native wildlife species.”

She added that the weed, first detected in Derwentwater in 1996, out-competed other native species, and that by 2003 the lake immediately south of Keswick had lost at least nine native species of plant.

Although it is a long-standing problem, Ms Binns said that “suddenly it seems to have caught people’s imaginations,” perhaps due to the popularity of wild swimming.

Ms Binns described the pigmyweed that could be found in Derwentwater as big “green sausages,”some of which were tens of metres long, that could be found at Derwentwater.

As the Trust does not know of any way to get rid of the weed once it infests a lake, it is particularly vital that people take steps to ensure they do not inadvertently cause it to spread. Ms Binns said that people who enter a lake could “check, clean and dry” as a precaution. Firstly, people should check anything they take into the water (such as a wetsuit) to make sure there is no pigmyweed on it. Afterwards, clean anything that has been taken into the water (a bucket or trug might be convenient for this purpose), making sure that the dirty water is not poured away down the sink or bath as the pigmyweed can find its way into bodies of water via this route. Finally, it is important to make sure any kit is dry so that pigmyweed cannot survive.

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Teenager Cleans up River for her Brother

News Canada reports: In 2015, 11-year-old Stella Bowles wanted to go swimming in LaHave River in Nova Scotia, but her mom said no. Stella’s mom told her it wasn’t a good idea because of the sewage that was being dumped into the river. This prompted Stella to begin testing the river water for fecal bacteria as part of a science project. She sampled parts of the river where her brother went swimming and, with the help of a local doctor, the samples were tested for bacteria.

The results discovered that the four areas that were sampled had bacteria levels that exceeded Health Canada guidelines.

Stella began to research the impact straight pipes had on the health of the river. A straight pipe system is a sewage disposal system that transports raw or partially settled sewage directly into the water. The discharge of raw sewage into the LaHave River through straight pipes is illegal under the Nova Scotia. She posted her findings on a Facebook page that garnered hundreds of shares and responses.

Stella ended up securing more than $15-million from all three levels of government to fix the problem. In 2018, work to swap out straight pupes for septic systems that include septic tanks, pump chamber, sand filters and drain fields began. More…

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Swim City Exhibition Basel Switzerland

25.05. – 29.09.2019

Swim City

Opening: 24/05/2019, 7 PM

The exhibition “Swim Citywill be the first to draw attention to one particular contemporary phenomenon in the urban space: river swimming as a mass movement – a 21st-century Swiss invention. For decades, cities like Basel, Bern, Zurich and Geneva have been gradually making the river accessible as a natural public resource in the built environment. This has made the river become a place of leisure, right on the doorstep and firmly anchored in everyday life. The rest of the world looks on in awe at the bathing culture in the Rhine, Aare, Limmat and Rhone. Here, cities like Paris, Berlin, London and New York see an example of how they can reclaim their river areas as a spatial resource, so as to sustainably improve the quality of people’s urban lives.

Curators:  Barbara Buser, Architect and Rhine expert; Andreas Ruby, Director S AM
For the film recordings, S AM collaborates with Zurich director Jürg Egli, who creates a large-scale triple-screen projection that will show the experience of river swimming from the perspective of the swimmer.

Discover more…

Basel Swim City

Watch the Video              Discover Wild Swimming in Switzerland

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BBC News Reports: Researchers are testing the water in Cambridge to identify the source of bacterial infections affecting rowers and swimmers.

Puntseq’s survey of regular river users found that one in five “obtained an infection likely attributed to Cam water contact”.

Symptoms included so-called “swimmer’s itch”, fever after swallowing water, and wound infections.

In 2014, organisers cancelled the first City of Cambridge Triathlon after the river tested positive for potentially-fatal Weil’s disease.

The team collected water samples at nine points along the river, between Grantchester Meadows and Baits Bite Lock, at three different times last year – in April, June and August.

After samples are filtered and processed, they use a tiny portable sequencing device, called a MinION, to pinpoint and identify the DNA profile of any lurking bugs.

PhD student Lara Urban, of the European Bioinformatics Institute, said the team had “an important societal question to answer”.

She said: “People here are very divided: some will just go swimming everywhere; others say they wouldn’t even put their hand in the river.

“We have not found anything ‘super dangerous’, but we may have one candidate that is known to cause wound infections and come from agricultural input”.

Tom Larnach, river manager with the River Cam Conservancy, welcomed the study.

“The river attracts so many people because it has so many facets – the tradition of punting, the beauty of the colleges – and the fact that 10 minutes along the towpath you’re in pristine countryside,” he said.

“Anything that helps build up a bigger picture of the overall health of the river is a good thing.”

Puntseq’s findings will be published in the summer. ​

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Discover the history of swimming in Cambridge…

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The Guardian reports: Nationwide, there is a boom in wild swimming. Even the fashion pack, rarely ones to embrace the great outdoors, have got involved. Anne-Marie Curtis, editor-in-chief of Elle, swims regularly at the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond on Hampstead Heath in London, as does designer Louise Gray.

Four years ago, printmaker Katherine Anteney entered a triathlon. While training, she remembered how good swimming felt – the peace and the adrenaline, the pleasure of spreading your fingers wide in cool water or kicking your legs in a firm breaststroke. She began visiting lakes regularly. “At first I wore a wetsuit, but ditched that pretty quickly as it felt like it kept me removed from the water.”

Today, Anteney’s favourite swimming spot is the river Test in Southampton. Even in the winter, she will swim a handful of times a month, and the local train now greets her and her swimming partner Pam with a hoot. “Where we get changed is called the Slab. It’s a concrete culvert right next to the tracks on the mainline to Salisbury. We always get a honk and a wave. Those poor fellas have seen our bare bums too many times.”

Anteney advises swimming with a companion for camaraderie and motivation. “We swim upstream heads up and chatting, and then back with head-down crawl. In the winter, we wear woolly hats and I keep my glasses on, because then I have an excuse not to put my face in.” Occasionally, they go in the dark with head torches. She would advise investing in neoprene shoes for warmth. “I hate getting mud on my feet,” she says. “Earplugs help keep you warmer but they mean you can’t do much chatting, so I’ve stopped wearing them. I have learned the importance of getting warm quickly afterwards and anticipating the afterdrop (where your core temp carries on dropping after you get out). I couldn’t live without my Dryrobe.” This combines a windproof outer shell with a synthetic lambswool lining.

“Swimming is the new yoga,” says the journalist and screenwriter Marion Hume. “I love that fashion has finally ‘got’ swimwear to swim in, from Stella McCartney’s whimsical pieces to Ashley Graham’s, which are so body-positive.” She prefers the comfort of a lido – just wild enough, without the risk of reeds or fish. “I swim at Parliament Hill Lido, which is lined in metal that sparkles in the sun – it’s like moving through a James Turrell art installation.” Like Anteney, she recommends neoprene boots – “I tell myself they are Margiela circa 1980s, when in fact they just look ridiculous.”

If the thought of plunging into the cold – and open water often is cold, even in the warmer weather – in just a swimming costume fills you with horror, a wetsuit is always an option. Consider the thickness carefully, says consultant Charlotte Goodhart, who swims in the West Reservoir at Manor House, north London. “My advice would be to wear a wetsuit of at least 2mm thickness – the water might not feel that cold but you’ll gradually get quite chilly – though gloves and socks aren’t as necessary.”

Before you grab your goggles, consider your swimming aims, says Anteney. “The last thing it’s about is exercise,” she says. “It’s about being in the water and feeling it all around you. Being at eye level with nature. An early-morning swim before work makes the rest of the day manageable. It keeps me sane – even though everyone else thinks we are insane.” Read more on this story…

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