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.
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.
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.
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…