Hung Out to Dry Swimming and British Culture      Chris Ayriss

Wild Swimming News: Is British Swimming becoming a female sport? 24/10/2014 

Wild swimming may be great fun, but in England it is often portrayed as an activity for the hardy if not the foolhardy minority. Despite acknowledging that river and lake swimming is very much encouraged throughout Europe, many feel that swimmers here in Britain should rightly be restricted to the safer confines of the indoor swimming pool.

Wild swimming promoted in Norway

Before the construction of such pools during the industrial revolution naturally all swimmers swam in the wild. Refreshing, invigorating and healthful though this was, a change in culture saw wild swimmers chased out of open water rounded up and confined to indoor swimming pools. Today swimmers living near cities often struggle to find a suitable place to swim outdoors without facing censure or ridicule from either members of the public or from well meaning officials.

The public facilities once enjoyed countrywide on river, lake and canal banks have became out of bounds in most cases and swimming restrictions have brought an end to what many found to be one of the greatest pleasures in life. Hung Out to Dry investigates how and why we British now stand apart from Europe and America by restricting the liberty of the swimmer.

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Auther Chris Ayriss

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Hung Out to Dry is much deeper than a simple history of swimming. This chronicle of British culture exposes the rational behind our national obsession with controlling swimmers. Readers will be intrigued and fascinated by this rich and diverse treasure trove of knowledge, as refreshing and amusing as is wild swimming itself.

Wild Swimmers Hung Out to Dry

Read Hung Out to Dry and your eyes will be opened to possibly the most neglected aspect of our British heritage. A change in attitude that could have arisen nowhere other than in Britain, the birthplace of the industrial revolution. More... 

The Evolution of British SwimmingThe Evolution of British Swimming

History: The Evolution of British Swimming

Wild Swimming: Stamford

"A persuasive book... intriguing from the outset, a fascinating chronology of British swimming which goes much deeper than one might expect. Well researched and interestingly written... the historical ebb and flow of swimming popularity is quite remarkable." November 2012 Swimming Times

"Chris Ayriss's idiosyncratic approach is as refreshing as the waters he loves and the ebb and flow of his story matches that of meandering stream; you never know what is round the next bend." Spring 2014 Physical Education Matters

wild swimming in Leicester 

Crunching the numbers - compare the number of inland bathing waters in the UK with the rest of Europe.

Germany 1,900 France 1,300 United Kingdom scarcely 12

In England, outdoor swimmers have been chased out of open water.

Yet, despite banning swimming in rivers and lakes for our health and safety, we still seem to experience roughly the same rate of drowning as the rest of Europe where swimming is very much encouraged? Does this mean that discouraging swimming in relatively safe and visible swimming locations push swimmers out of sight and into danger? Perhaps a lack of education and open water experience leave people ill equipped for misadventure thus risking lives?

Despite alarmist headlines, ROSPA reason that the risk of dying in UK waters are similar to the risk of being struck by a motor vehicle as a pedestrian 1:200,000 each year. Yet with better education even that very low risk can be dramatically reduced. Education makes a huge difference. If children can be taught to cross roads with care, surly the British public could be reeducating in water safety.

Test your knowledge - Just how safe is wild swimming in comparison to angling, sailing,  canoeing or rowing?

Wild Swimming in Switzerland

Wild swimming in Switzerland

Wild Swimming and British Swimming History
"Chris Ayriss is one of those gifted, passionate writers with a unique talent for composing prose that is inherently meaningful to swimmers. He researched swimming over the course of a decade and subsequently penned Hung Out To Dry, the story of British swimming that delves deeply in its history and social implications. Hung Out To Dry is a great book for swimmers and those who enjoy viewing society from a specific perspective - from the water's edge." Open Water Source

£8.00 best web price  Amazon UK £10.09 or USA $19.89  ISBN 978-0-557-12428-2

Hung Out to Dry recounts the checkered history of British swimming, from the zeal of the conquering Romans; through years of religious and superstitious intolerance; to the health and safety obsessions of today. The seaside holiday sparked the introduction of swimming costume, beach fashion and body consciousness. The construction of lidos countrywide improved the nation's health immeasurably, whilst introducing a sunshine and sunbathing era. Chapter six focuses on the social history of swimming in the city of Leicester and the influence that Leicester personalities such as Daniel Lambert, Thomas Cook and Jennie Fletcher have had on the swimming world. Discover how a clash of culture changed British swimming from an animated, outdoor, playful activity, mostly enjoyed by working class boys, into a very competitive sport, confined predominantly to man-made indoor pools. This history of British swimming sheds new light on the development of British society, conveying insight and understanding as to the growth of our current prejudice towards wild swimmers. Discover how, despite restrictions, the desire to escape to the wild is propelling swimmers beyond the walls of the swimming pool, to return to swimming in the wild. Be inspired!

"...a fascinating book ...very readable, informative and entertaining... excellent illustrations. Leicester Mercury 

"This captivating book exposes for the first time the dramatic impact that swimmers have had on British morals and culture... Swimmers used to be common in the lakes and waterways of England. How were these sportsmen chased out of the great outdoor waters, and relocated to indoor swimming pools? Discover how pride turned to prejudice as swimmers sparked the development of British Prudery." Cornwall Today

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London Tower Bridge wild swimming in the Thames

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Wild swimming is not about freezing cold water; it's about the joy of swimming in the great outdoors, breaking free from the indoor swimming pool and returning to swim in the wild.

British culture has taken the fun out of swimming; swimmers have been imprisoned at indoor pools for far too long. Wild swimming means breaking free from convention, escaping to the outdoors and returning to beautiful surroundings, to water that sparkles with sunlight, and the exhilaration and freshness of pure living water.

wild swimming Freedom Joy Adventure

Wild Swimming at Aberdovey
Wild swimming at the seaside

Wild Swimming is Good For Children

Wild Swimming, one of fifty things children should do before they are twelve; National Trust. Take a look...

Attitudes towards swimming outdoors (wild swimming) have been shaped by our rich and eventful history. Yet with the remarkable achievements of David Walliams who raised over two million pounds for Sport Relief with his eight day 140 miles swim of the Thames, swimmers are increasingly turning their attention outdoors.

Lake Windermere in the Lake District is described by the BBC as "cold, dark and dangerous." Yet it sites traditional pool swimmer: Graeme Sutton as an open water swimming convert.

'He was happy with his view of tiles at the bottom of the pool and had no desire to swap it for an expanse of open water.'

He says: "Two years ago I would have said there's absolutely no appeal whatsoever, It's cold, it's damp, you feel horrible. Or at least that's what my thoughts were - until I went in."

He liked it so much that, in 2011, he embarked upon the challenge of swimming all 16 of the Lake District lakes in 16 days.

As the tide turns in favor of open water swimming, recreational swimmers are increasingly attracted by the freedom, fun and adventure of swimming in the wild as opposed to the confines of a swimming pool. Perhaps as time passes Britain may re-emerge as the nation of swimmers we once were. David Walliams may turn out to be a modern day Matthew Webb, but that is another story

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The Indoor swimming pool could be making you sick

Researcher Dr. Alfred Bernard is a professor of toxicology at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels and one of the world's leading researchers on aquatic environments. He has published a series of studies documenting the effects of chlorine and its byproducts in swimming pools.

According to Bernard's studies, swimming in indoor, chlorinated pools during childhood has been shown to reduce levels of serum inhibin B and total testosterone, both indicators of sperm count and mobility. Bernard has also substantiated a link between swimming in indoor chlorinated pools and the development of asthma and recurrent bronchitis in children. A 2007 study, conducted by Bernard, showed airway and lung permeability changes in children who had participated in an infant swimming group.

But these risks could be drastically reduced. "It's a public education thing," Blatchley said. "Swimmers and the general public need to recognize that there's a link between their hygiene habits and the health of everyone who uses the pool."

Next time you head to the pool do your part, and hit showers before you hit the water, everyone will be better off for it.

Alternatively try wild swimming in clean, fresh, running water.


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Cleanliness Versus Godliness

Sex, Sea and Swimming Trunks

Sunny Days, Dark Shadows

Lidos Open, Rivers Close

Leicester, Swim City

The Last Stand

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Wild Swimming France

"Very readable and a must for advocates of outdoor swimming." Bryn Dymott