Stay informed with the latest news & reviews from Gone Swimming
Just infrequent little updates from our swimming adventures around the place, and general thoughts about water activities.
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- Written by Dan Graham
Today, into our inboxes dropped this article from the Huffington Post - Open Water Swimming in Zurich. Where Gareth Johnson opens the article by saying...
A combination of lake and river swimming facilities means that the city of Zürich has one of the highest densities of swimming facilities in the world.
As a result the locals have developed a real swimming culture, jumping into the lake or river at every opportunity - but visitors aren't excluded...
We really do wonder, why swimming in open water on the continent is so acceptable, so mainstream, where here in the UK open water swimmers are seen as a "lunatic fringe".
More interestingly, with the Swiss in particular being very safety conscious, and very respectful of rules and regulations - why the risks and liabilities of swimming in open water in Switzerland are acceptable for grown adults to accept themselves, and enjoy the benefits. Contrastingly in the UK, open water swimming is banned in many beautiful lakes and reservoirs that would be wonderful places to swim - because it's too dangerous!
Why is the water in the UK so much more dangerous than the water in Switzerland?
We argue that it isn't, we also argue that the risk is a perceived one more than a real one (there are real risks, but sometimes these get overstated). We believe that by working with the owners of rivers, lakes, and reservoirs we can educate them that the risks are not as great as they believe - and that adults in the UK are capable of making their own choices to take a risk in order to enjoy the benefits... just as we do every single time we climb into a car!
The video is from Bern, but we think it wonderfully illustrates all sorts of behaviour that would have "the authorities" in the UK shaking in fear at the potential for the Health & Safety incident!
It would be very interesting to see if we could access the injury rates, and drowning statistics for Switzerland - and contrast them with our own.
- Written by Dan Graham
We must admit that we are not the closest followers of the FINA Marathon Swimming World Cup.
But we can still be pleased when Tom Allen is in the British Gas team for the fourth leg of the FINA 10km Marathon World Cup.
The fourth round will be held in Cozumel, Mexico on April 13 - so hopefully the water temperatures will be significantly warmer than North Wales.
Tom will be joined by Daniel Fogg, Jack Burnell and Tom Sunter. Lucinda Campbell is the only women competitor. Prior to departure the team will train at K2 in Crawley as part of their preparations - it's a nice pool, but it's nothing like the great outdoors.
We understand why, but it does seem daft to us to swim indoors to train to swim outdoors. Although considering the amount of snow that has fallen out of the sky in the last few days around North Wales.....!
- Written by Dan Graham
Despite being "out of season" for the outdoor industry in North Wales, we have been busier than ever over the last few weeks. Firstly, the deluge of bookings coming in, both for our Wet Weekends, and for the coaching courses that we offer.
We've recently made a major investment into some new equipment - that will be featuring in a blog post in a couple of weeks or so, once we've got it all sorted.
But mainly, we've been out on the road. On the 26th of January, we were down at the Cold Water Swimming Championships at Tooting Bec Lido - we were both exhibiting, meeting lasts years guests, and also relay racing as well (along with 600 other swimmers). It was a fabulous weekend, and we are really greatful to the South London Swimming Club for putting on such a good event. Here is a lovely video from ITV for a bit of a taster.
Also, we want to wish a big thank you to all the folk that came to chat to us - we cannot wait to show you around North Wales.
Hot on the heels (or should that be cold on the heels?) of the CWSC was The Big Chill Swim where once again we were exhibiting, and relay racing. Have a look on our Facebook page for a few photos from the day.
The Telegraph were there - with a journalist racing in the 60m, and this is a nice video that he shot.
After the excitement of the events, we've also been off to a few meetings and conferences, there are some really interesting projects kicking off around North Wales to do with sustainability and the environment - and of course, the new creation of Natural Resources Wales. February doesn't show any sign of slowing down, and nor does March to be honest. It's great - that's exactly what we want!
I'm still buzzing from the open water coaching in Bala Lake yesterday - just because the temperature drops, does not mean that it's time to stop. I think I might draw a line at breaking ice to get in.. but who knows - if that opportunity arises, why not take it!
Swim with you soon!
- Written by Dan Graham
We know we say it a lot, but as a holiday company and as coaches, YOUR safety is our priority. Unless you are safe, you won't have a good time. If you don't have a good time, you won't tell your friends, and you won't come back. So we work pretty hard at making sure we are doing the best we can possibly do at keeping you safe.
One of the organisations that we are pretty friendly with in a number of ways is the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Both in terms of our water activities, but also in terms of our driving. Now, in years gone by, the guys at RoSPA have taken a beating from the open water swimming community. Anyway, moving on from dwelling in the past - RoSPA are now taking a very proactive interest in open water activities, and have recently published this post: 2013 - a year to make waves on inland water safety on their blog - called Safety Gone Sane.
We recommend that you go and read the whole blog post, but we are going to just pull out some comments for discussion here.
Public expectations have changed, and this is reflected in the civil landscape which to some extent has changed in the wake of the Darby v National Trust and Tomlinson V Congleton judgements. These, and subsequent judgements, have signalled a move away from overly paternalistic approaches, demonstrating an increasingly tolerant attitude towards public risk management from the higher courts.
This is critical, and we agree 100%. As a grown adult in a free country, we choose to go and do dangerous activities - whether that is skydiving, mountain biking, surfing, swimming, or crossing the road. We do these things of our own free will, and the person that is responsible for my safety is me.
Of course, we can pay for lessons, and we have an expectation that the coach or instructor will look after us as well - but they cannot stop us from doing stupid things. Dan has had some interesting conversations with some surf rescue guys in the USA recently, and they highlighted the big difference in our cultures - they felt in the USA that people were taking less and less responsibility for themselves, and expecting "someone else to do something" more often. Thanks to the work of the guys at RoSPA, we don't believe that we are in that situation in the UK. There is increasing pressure to just relax a bit, and allow folks to go out and play... and hurt themselves.
Unfortunately, we still see an often piecemeal approach to managing inlands sites, and the question of responsibility is still having a significant impact on our collective ability to manage these risks.
Although, the view from higher courts has, in the main, underlined personal responsibility and promoted the right to take risks, and protect landowners with good management arrangements in place. Wider perceptions may not have caught up. We still, unfortunately all too often, come across the opinion that “elf ‘n’ safety says no”.
It is simply the easy response for landowners. It's easier to say no, and not deal with the issue than it is to engage in conversation. We have certainly seen this from a couple of significant water owners in North Wales - who will remain nameless for the time being.
It's particularly irritating when sites are allowed to be used for activities such as canoeing, sailing, or SCUBA diving... However, thanks to some excellent analytical work by the guys at RoSPA - there is increasing evidence that these activities are really very dangerous in comparison to open water swimming (in reality, all the activities are fairly safe). The barriers to swimmers on grounds of "safety" are slowly being broken down.
So we agree totally with RoSPA - that 2013 is looking to be a good year for adverturous activities generally, and open water swimming specifically.
- Written by Dan Graham
Obviously, the big event for the UK in 2012 was the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The big event for us open water swimmers was indeed the 10km swim in Hyde Park. These guys are the best open water swimmers in the world... but with the exception of Kerie-Anne Payne (who seems to be everywhere!) - do we (the general public) know much about the others?
We thought we'd start an ad-hoc series looking at open water swimmers from around the globe.
First up, the USA.
Anyone that followed the Olympics this past summer followed the exploits of Ryan Lochte, Michael Phleps, and others. Lochte stepped out of the shadow of Michael Phelps by taking five medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics, including gold in the 400-metre individual medley where he defeated Phelps. However, one lesser known member of the US Olympic swim team is Alex Meyer. Meyer is a lifelong open water swimmer and the US representative in last summer's Open Water Marathon.
Meyer is originally from Rochester, Minnesota and started swimming when he was a baby. His love for swimming would turn into an obsession as he took to competitive swimming at the age of seven and continued through high school where he was a four-time All-American and two-time academic All-American.
Meyer would go on to Harvard University where he continued swimming and was All-Ivy League twice. He also qualified for and competed in the 2008 Olympic trials, but did not make the team. That experience obviously helped to drive him as after not qualifying for the 2008 Olympics, Meyer would go on to several major accomplishments in the sport.
At the 2009 U.S. Open Water National Championship, Meyer would miss out on a medal when he finished 4th in the 10km event. A year later, he would break through for his first major medal after taking the gold in the 25km event at the Open Water World Championships. A year later, he would come back to the US Open WNC and win the 10km gold. He also finished 4th in the 10km that year at the Open Water World Championships.
Meyer would try again to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Team and this time he would succeed, becoming the only open water swimmer to make the Olympic team. His only event in the Olympics was the 10km Marathon event held in Serpentine Lake at Hyde Park. A total of 25 swimmers from 23 nations competed in the event.
He would go on to perform admirably in the event but fell short of winning Olympic gold. His time of 1:50:48.2 would be good enough for 10th place. Oussama Melloulio of Tunisia would win the event by swimming the 10km 53.1 seconds faster.
While his Olympic run may not have produced a medal, it is certainly still a career highlight for a man with a long history in open water swimming. At just 24 and with a few more years under his belt, there is no reason to doubt that Alex Meyer will be competing for a medal in the 2016 Games.
- Written by Dan Graham
Although New Year was spent relaxing in Leicestershire for us... it was great to see photos on Facebook and on the news of thousands of people taking part in a huge variety of New Years Day dips of one form or another.
We found this nice little video - just proving that it is not a uniquely British tradition.
Bookings are coming in nicely with people getting very excited about open water swimming for 2013. So don't delay - come and see what all the excitement is about!
- Written by Dan Graham
On Tuesday, 13th November, John Pugh M.P., submitted to the House of
Commons a petition from his constituent Douglas Malpus (one of our
supporters). The petition asserts that there is a public right of
navigation on all rivers and asks that "that the House of Commons
urges the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to
adopt a policy for navigation on unregulated watercourses which is
consistent with current legislation or explain by what authority
the Department holds a contrary policy." (see here
for full details)
The www.parliament.uk website says "Under Standing Order No. 156 a copy of the petition, once printed, is sent to the appropriate Government department. Following a Resolution of the House on 25 October 2007, all substantive petitions should receive a response from the relevant Minister, in the form of an observation. Any observations made by a Minister in reply are printed in Hansard and a copy is sent to the Member who presented the petition. Copies of petitions and observations are also sent to the relevant select committee of the House, which should put the petition onto its formal agenda."
DEFRA is the Government department concerned. We can expect them to do what they have done before - not answer the question and repeat that their policy is to make progress via access agreements. But this time such a response will be insulting the intelligence of not just us, the electorate, but of parliament itself. The answer is for all of us to seek to engage our own MPs in watching for a substantive and meaningful response from DEFRA. The more of our MPs that are engaged, the more likely it is that we will find some that will object to more evasion and obfuscation.
We need all supporters of River Access For All to engage their MPs with the issue.
Email them at their constituency office. You will find your MP here (enter your postcode and then click on their name to get their contact details)
Your email should tell them
- you are a constituent. Give your full name and address
- you believe there is and always has been a public right of navigation on all rivers in England & Wales (What is the evidence?)
- about the petition (Parliament website)
- about any issues on local rivers (see the Access Map)
- (if they are Lib Dems) remind them of their manifesto commitment “Liberal Democrats will:Increase the general right of access to the countryside along the lines of the model introduced by the Liberal Democrats in Scotland” – 2010 Liberal Democrat Manifesto, page 81.
- that in 1973 The Select Committee of the House of Lords on Sport and Leisure said "The legal question of rights of way over water must be settled. A number of different legal interpretations of this right of way have been referred to in evidence and it is time for these to be resolved."
- that in 2011 the Red Card to Red Tape Report commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport Researched & Written by The Sport & Recreational Alliance said "DEFRA should introduce a statutory right of access in England and Wales for un-powered craft to inland water for recreational purposes. This system of rights and responsibilities should be based on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code." (see page 201)
- What you as a constituent want him/her to do - take an interest in ensuring that DEFRA give an open an meaningful response to the petition and either confirm that there is a public right of navigation on all rivers or state by what legislation or exercise of statutory authority the historic PRN was ended.
A template for a suitable email is here.
The best way to increase the chances of your MP paying more than
lip service to this request is to ask for an appointment to
discuss the issue at their next constituency surgery. It just
takes a two or three minute for a phone call to the constituency
office to arrange a 15 minute meeting with your MP, usually on a
Friday afternoon or evening.
Thanks for your support in taking this first step in moving River
Access For All from a website worthy of support into an effective
Keith at River Access For All
- Written by Dan Graham
When we set up Gone Swimming, we were lucky enough to secure some start-up funding from the Galluogi fund of the Gwynedd Economic Partnership - this was a huge help to us, and without it the business simply would not be where it is today.
The funding came from the European Regional Development Fund, and the Gwynedd Economic Partnership are re-applying to secure more funding from 2013 onwards. As part of this funding bid, they were reporting on the various companies that are a success after benefiting from the funding.
So they came to film us, and here are the results. We think it gives a really good taste of a Wet Weekend and our holidays: Swimming, tea, cake, swimming, tea, cake, swimming, chatting - in the beautiful countryside of Gwynedd!
- Written by Dan Graham
We have both spent a large chunk of our lives teaching people aquatic activities of one form or another.
It makes some really thought provoking points, particularly when we look at them in terms of swimming strokes.
- Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
- Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
- Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
- When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
- Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
- Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
- Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
- Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
- Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
- Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.
In terms of swimming techniques - there are many different schools of thoughts, each with their own nuances and ideas. Off the top of my head, in the UK, there is the ASA, the STA, SwimSmooth, Total Immersion, Art of Swimming. Inclusion or exclusion on this list does not indicate that we particularly support or disagree with any of these organisations ideas and methods.
It does make me think though, that some of these organisation appear to be quite dogmatic and formulaic in their methods. At Gone Swimming, we try to take account of as many different teaching approaches as possible - and use the ones that are the best for that student, on that day. Recognising that the "best" method may change from day to day, or even hour to hour.
I think the most important one on the list is "When you meet with opposition... endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.". There are a good many people out there in the swimming world that are talking a fair amount of rubbish - and it is accepted, supported, and believed because of their "authority".
- The Games And Beyond - Inspire A Generation
- Athletic Performance - Achievement vs Effort
- Inspire a Generation
- No more procrastinating...
- London Olympics - Gamesmaker
- A game of four quarters
- OSS - Summer of Swimming
- BBC Radio 2 - Jeremy Vine and Wild Swimming
- How to warm up someone who is really cold
- Is swimming really banned in the Thames?
- Building confidence in nervous swimmers
- Event Water Safety - an insiders view
- Busy busy busy
- Kellogg’s Launch Scheme to Encourage More Children to Swim
- Top tips on vision correction for swimmers
- Webcams of river levels
- Want to know what you are missing out on?
- A post modern contextualization of swimming sub-cultures
- Top tips - How our Olympic swimmers deal with open water
- Kit Review - Goggles - Zoggs Predator Mask
- Training not swimming - playing not training
- Sighting in Open Water Swimming
- Rubbish Swimming - an update
- Red Tape Challenge - access to water
- Microadventures - River Swimming - Al Humphreys
- Open water swimming in London
- Essential kit for swimmers
- Ice swimming & freediving under ice
- Book Review - Hung out to dry - by Chris Ayriss
- The secret life of swimmers
- Kit Review - Goggles - Zoggs Predator Flex
- National Trust - 50 things
- Book Review - The Story of Swimming by Susie Parr
- Wild Swimming Underwater
- Brief update
- Cold Water Acclimitisation
- Rebecca Adlington in action underwater
- Hidden Gems - Blue Lake
- 6km descent of the Dyfi
- Snowdonia National Park - Recreational Strategy Feedback
- Sunday - a few impropmtu dips in the Dove
- A quiet weekend
- A hectic week
- How to choose a good swim spot
- National Freediving Championships - Liverpool
- British Swimming Championships - Olympic Aquatic Centre
- Countryside Council for Wales - Wild Swimming Activity Code
- Rob Fryer's Wild Swimming Guide
- Llyn Aled
- Wild Swimming with Crocodiles
- Valentines Day - Love your swim
- Descent of the Dee - Part 1
- Mike & Dan - Floating down the Menai Strait
- Mike - Swimming over the Cullin