The good old days of outdoor swimming have now been laid to rest and we might smile at the thought that people used to enjoy swimming in the dirty rivers of London and other industrial cities.

Today an upsurge in interest in outdoor living and nature has caused heads to turn back to our once loved rivers and lakes as efforts are made to reintroduce swimming to the urban landscape.

Plus Pool New York

Dry Line Wild Swimming Pools New York

Thames Baths Project 

Kings Cross - London

River Swimming in Berlin

An Urban Beach in Ireland


How to Swim in a River that's Just TOO DIRTY to Swim in!

In times gone by, people would swim almost anywhere giving little consideration to the quality of the waters they swam in. This was true at the seaside, in rivers and lakes and even at swimming pools. Ignorance was bliss, well, that is until you took ill and cursed the day you went in swimming.

Our modern-day awareness of environmental issues has put many off swimming in city rivers. Even when waters are clean enough to swim suspicions about the dangers of what may lurk in the watery depths keep most people from taking the plunge.

A New pool for New York

So what can be done to encourage swimmers back into polluted rivers, and help them reclaim the joys of river swimming?

You can of course attempt to clean up the pollutants and make the water safe for swimmers. This really can be done, the Copenhagen Harbour Baths are a living example.

But what about city's like London and New York?

If cleaning up the whole river is not possible perhaps cleaning just a bit of it could work.

The Plus Pools project is working to do just that. The walls of the proposed pool will filter the river water making it safe for swimmers inside the floating baths.

Is this really possible? To prove that it is the first stage of the project has been implemented, a floating lab instituted and the results of the filtration system can be monitored online.

To find out more please see the video below!

What about Father Thames?

There are two positive developments here, the first being a new super sewer which could improve river water quality to safe swimming standards. The second is an interim fix, to build a pool in the river that uses fresh un-chlorinated or tap water which can then be naturally cleaned and refreshed. Read more about the Thames Baths Project here.

These projects show a change in direction when it comes to the use of these natural urban spaces. A move back to swimming in the natural environment.


Visit the London exhibition Urban Plunge to find out more.

Discover just how popular swimming was in Britain just a century ago, and why we here in Britain have developed our unique culture through our swimming experience.



New York Dry Line Welcomes Wild Swimmers

From Flood Risk to Wild Swimming Baths

The Guardian Reports: If New York needs 10 miles of flood defenses to protect it from another Hurricane Sandy, why not conceive the barrier as a leisure amenity? Oliver Wainwright meets the Danish architect behind this bold plan…

New York Flood Defenses

As the berm weaves its way along the highway, it will take on the character of different areas, curving around existing sports pitches, morphing into grandstand seating and providing a level at which the road might be permanently covered over in future. There are plans for fishing piers as well as wild swimming pools in the spirit of Copenhagen's harbour baths, which came out of one of the first consultation meetings, when an enthusiastic group of East River swimmers turned up.

Discover the American history of Wild Swimming…



The First of a Kind - A New Public Swimming Pool for the UK - Kings Cross - London

Wild Swimming at Kings Cross London

Is this the real life or is it just fantasy?

Our Sceptered Isles unique culture is standing in the way of the free swimming movement. Across Europe and throughout America, outdoor swimming is a given during the summer months, but not so in good old Blighty.

Outdoor swimmers, wild swimmers, whatever they prefer to be called are increasingly frustrated at the swimming restrictions imposed upon them. True the risk of unsupervised outdoor swimming is greater than swimming under the watchful gaze of lifeguards at an indoor pool, but is it morally right to lock swimmers out of sight even if out of danger?

Surely no one would suggest that cyclists give up the open road in favor of a spin class, even if that meant they could never again have an accident.

No one would insist that marathon runners compete on tread mills rather than training and competing in the street, no matter how fancy the setting.

But uniquely in England, swimmers have had their freedom curtailed. The great outdoors is out of bounds to the vast majority of budding enthusiasts. Is their any wonder that swimming is in decline? Of course you cannot monitor every pond, riverbank and lakeside across the country and so scare tactics have been employed to keep swimmers under control. From an early age we are indoctrinated with the teaching that if we swim in rivers and lakes we are dicing with death.

However a new movement, entirely separate from the wild swimming community is raising the issue of prejudice in the swimming environment.

The outrageous suggestion has not only been muted, it's being implemented; to go ahead and build a natural swimming pond in Kings Cross.

A new Wild Swimming pool at Kings Cross London

This building site location will be transformed into a swimming pool oasis for local residents and visitors. Entrance prices will be comparable to local swimming pools and although unable to accommodate up to 2,000 bathers each day as the larger pools in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy do, this small pool is still big enough to welcome 163 bathers each day in warm weather.

Like so many pools across Europe, this bathing oasis will have it's waters naturally cleansed using plants to filter out impurities just as happens in a natural pools.

Wild Swimming London

It seems ironic that with all the natural pools across the country this man made pond will be the first of its kind in the UK. But in early 2015 and for 20 glorious months thereafter, Kings Cross will become a swimming mecca.

This pool will put outdoor bathing on public display, it will achieve what has not been possible until now, it will show that outdoor swimming is acceptable, desirable and achievable.

Roca London Gallery Urban Plunge

If you would like to know more about the changes London will see over the next few years why not visit the Roca London Gallery and see the free exhibition: Urban Plunge.

To understand the British prejudice towards outdoor swimmers please see the book: Hung Out to Dry Swimming and British Culture, but be prepared, read this book and you will see the British as never before!

If you are not convinced that outdoor swimming is possible without leading to disaster you might enjoy my video featured below:


Just as we had to learn the Green Cross Code before being allowed to cross the road on our own, both adults and children need re-educating in water safety.

Please see advice for adults and teenagers…

Also advice for parents and children…

Please don't be guilty of prejudice. Before deciding that outdoor swimming is too dangerous for the UK take this short test and discover how sports compare when it comes to drowning risks…

The Sun is to Shine as King’s Cross Pond Club Opens to the Public!

A great weather weekend is on the way as King’s Cross Pond Club opens to wild swimmers!

King’s Cross Pond Club opens on Friday 22nd May…

To find out more and to enjoy a dip yourself, please visit King’s Cross Pond Club


Berlin Canal Could Soon Transform Into The World's Largest Swimming Pool

River Swimming in Berlin reports: "Germans could soon recapture an idyllic part of old city life: Being able to jump in the river for a swim whenever you want. 
One hundred years ago, anyone who wanted to go swimming in Berlin could jump in the local river at one of 30 bathhouses. That all changed when the city built a new sewer system that overflows into the river every time there's heavy rain. A new project hopes to make a section of the river clean and swimmable again creating the largest pool in the world, at almost 2,500 feet.

Wild Swimming in Berlin

The project would transform a side canal that has been closed to boat traffic for the last decade. At one end, a natural filter, made of layers of gravel and pollution-eating plants, would purify the river water flowing into the pool. A bypass would send sewer water in another direction, and the top of the structure would turn into a pedestrian and bicycle bridge. The beginning of the canal would be "re-naturalized" into a refuge for urban wildlife and a new park.

"The steps necessary to convert the river arm into a swimming pool are surprisingly simple and very cost-efficient," write architects from Realities United, the firm leading the project, who first had the idea in the 1990s. Now, as the city has changed two decades after reunification, they think the time is finally right to build it. The team will finish a feasibility study next year and is working on getting approvals from the city.

"The idea is not just about swimming, or ecology," says Grammaire. "It's also about how we treat public space." "

Similar ideas are in progress for New York, and London.

Urban Swimming is great fun as I discovered on a recent trip to Switzerland:

Baines des Paquis - Inspiration for the Thames Baths Project

Geneva City of Peace

The first thing that strikes you as a swimmer in Geneva is the colour and clarity of the water. Then their is Jet d'Eau the city's most famous landmark.

Jet d'Eau Geneva

Water is celebrated in Switzerland and the freedom to swim and have fun is a national institution. Their are so many places to swim on lake Geneva and in its rivers that I have given up hope of compiling an exhaustive list. Often bathing sites are not signposted so you have to keep your eyes open. Look out for ice cream signs! When on the road many swimming venues are signposted - see below:

Wild Swimming Sign Switzerland

Be aware that these signs may point to either a man made lido, river or lake swimming. Swimming is swimming in Switzerland wherever you care to go.

Baines des Paquis

Baines des Paquis Geneva

Its well worth paying the 2 Francs and visiting Bains des Paquis.

Wild swimming Switzerland

Even if you are not wanting to swim, eating in the restaurant is part of the Geneva experience.

Eating Out - Wild swimming Switzerland

The swimming facilities here are extraordinary and although it looks cool in the pictures, the water is in fact quite warm.

Wild Swimming Switzerland

This facilities include children's areas, a beach, pontoons, diving boards, a climbing wall - island, ping pong, table football, a sauna and a succession of art displays and special events. check out their website before you go.

Its OK you can dive, you'r in Switzerland

When visiting this lido, architect Chris Romer-Lee of Studio Octopi was inspired to think of ways in which we might incorporate a swimming experience to the Thames in London. The Thames Baths Project is the result and proposals to build three swimming baths in the center of the city are progressing with gusto. This is not some Disneyfication of the Thames but rather an effort to connect Londoners and visitors to a regenerated waterfront and a cleaner river.

Take a look at The Good Old Days

Discover the JOY of swimming in Switzerland!

Thames Swimming Pool – Hard to Believe but its Actually Happening!

With 10 hours to go the Thames Baths Project has exceeded its target by raising in excess of £140,000 on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.

The proposed pontoon would rise and fall with the tide, providing and oasis for wild swimmers right in the heart of London. The filtered, heated water will provide for visitors an experience that has been lost to the British in recent decades, a view of London mirrored at eye level by the waters of our greatest river.

The planning application is expected to go through this year. Building work should commence in 2016 with the first swimmers taking to the waters in 2017. If we are not careful visitors may soon start to think the Great Britain is part of Europe after all.

Visit the brand new King’s Cross Pond Club which opens today!

Discover why the British were chased out of rivers and lakes in the first place.

See how attitudes are so different here to those across Europe and America




Urban beach gets go ahead in Dún Laoghaire - Ireland

The Irish Times reports:

"A €2.5 million "urban beach" and outdoor swimming pool at Dún Laoghaire harbour has received planning permission.

Almost a year after the plan was lodged by Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council approved it for development.

The council and the harbour company are to jointly fund the project. It includes an artificial beach and cafe as well as a floating swimming pool with heated, treated seawater built on a converted river barge located beside a berth within the harbour.

The beach will be overlaid on the existing concrete structure of berth 1 at the East Pier in the harbour. Planned facilities alongside the beach include changing rooms, toilets and showers contained in eight single-storey "architectural modular pod structures".

The development will operate for six months a year."