Attitudes towards swimming outdoors have been shaped by our rich and eventful history. Yet with the remarkable achievements of David Walliams who raise 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 today 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.’ Yet 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…