As well as helping to prevent drowning accidents, learning to swim is important as it helps to develop the heart and lungs and also helps children get involved in swimming activities with friends. Children and adults who can swim can also participate in many fun sports like:
Swimming (if done for leisure) is a peaceful form of exercise and also helps to improve posture and co-ordination and also is a good low-impact exercise for people with injuries. It’s a shame that the old-fashioned pay-as-you-go swimming pools seem to be disappearing. Today you usually have to sign up for monthly memberships, which many people can’t afford to do.
You can enter your postcode to find local pools, if you’re in luck you may find an affordable version. Another idea is to approach out-of-season hotels as many offer memberships in quiet seasons, though obviously you likely don’t have lifeguards working, that’s the caveat. But it’s actually nice to find a quiet pool to support local hotels, and you likely get the pool to yourself for some rest and relaxation.
Does learning to swim prevent drowning? Yes. Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death for children, so learning to swim obviously helps. Yet lessons are only compulsory for primary school children (not for free schools). Yet swim lessons give skills that could one day save their lives.
the greenest choices for swimming costumes
Swimwear by its very nature is not eco-friendly (there is one company that makes organic swimwear but at $300 a pop, most people won’t be buying it). But for most people, that’s not the answer (wearing cotton t-shirts is not recommended, as they could swell up in water and cause drowning). Conventional swimwear used to be made from nylon, and now the rage is ‘recycled nylon made from fishing waste’. Sounds good, but of course it could still leach microplastics out to sea if you use it in the ocean, or launder costumes in the machine.
Sustainability experts say the best advice is simply use the most sustainable swimwear you can find (unless you’re planning to swim in the buff at a nudist beach!) and just rinse and dry-flat costumes, unless you really need to launder them. Environmental professor Timo Rissanen says that recycled polyester from bottles sheds more microfibers (and that bottles should be simply recycled to make more bottles), putting them into garments removes them from the ‘closed loop recycling system’ and leads to more plastics leaching into our oceans. You can use microplastic catchers (but most people don’t own them and are not likely to buy them). And even then, the collected fibres at landfill end up in drains anyway, if there’s heavy rainfall.
who would go wild swimming?
Wild swimming is very popular these days, although it’s important to find safe areas, follow expert advice and this also applies to dogs if they go with you (not all dogs are good swimmers, and some get cramp). You can find out more and discover good regions and safety tips at Wild Swimming website. There are many wild swimming clubs, including those daft people who go out on freezing Christmas mornings for a dip, then head back to a beach hut for cake – only in England!
How to Wild Swim is the ultimate guide by expert Ella Foote, who shows how to have fun but still stay safe. Find short wild swims and weekend breaks or off-grid wild swim holidays.
The Ripple Effect is a celebration of whacky wild swimming communities. Wild swimming is now a movement where people dip and laugh, and share stories of support. From student dippers to menopausal mermaids to addiction recovery and male mental health groups, learn what makes wild swim groups tick and why people join pods of other wild swimmers.
Wild Swimming Walks is a series of books where you can find local swims, plus walks if you prefer to keep your feet on dry land. They cover:
The ultimate ‘wild swim’ is of course swimming across the channel. No longer are people smothered in goose fat, but the times are getting shorter, as people get fitter. It is however pretty dangerous these days crossing the world’s busiest shipping route, and you still need your passport (likely carried by boats monitoring) when you arrive!
a history of outdoor swimming lidos
Lidos are outdoor public bathing pools, as an alternative to chlorine-soaked pools that you usually have to pay a membership to join. A few are now derelict but many communities are doing them up, to be used by the general public once again.
Lidos first became popular in the early 1800s (the first opened in the city of Bath in a grade II listed building). Named after the Italian word for coast, the aim was to keep people well and create jobs. Many tourists flocked to Blackpool and Scarborough simply due to the lidos, and some are now important Art Deco buildings like Plymouth, Penzance and Saltdean, near Brighton. London once had almost 70 along, with hundreds more nationwide.
In the 1960s, a report said swimming pools should be indoors, so many lidos were destroyed after lack of funding. Now many charitable trusts have changed their mind and others are now being restored by community groups.
how to build a natural swimming pool
Use chlorine-free alternatives to clean swimming pools, and keep covered when not in use, to reduce drowning accidents). Some people prefer natural swimming pools that use plants to naturally clean the algae (know toxic plants to avoid near pets). Swimming ponds are out of the budget of most people, but are a good alternative to support local pollinators, if this is you. Book a consultation to find out more.
To keep wildlife safe near swimming pools, you could use a combination of FrogLog (a ladder to let small critters escape if they fall in) and Critter Skimmer (which rescues creatures that get trapped in skimmers – get both as they do different things). How many you need, depends on pool size (see each site for info).
Dogs can usually swim but can still cramp (talk to your vet regarding suitable lifejackets, some are not comfortable). Doggy Docks (ramps used for boats) are easier to use than ladders, so may be a good option for some canine friends).
The Island Swimmer is a the big-hearted debut novel from national treasure Lorraine Kelly, who proves she can write as well as she giggles! This is the story of a women who returns home to Orkney’s wild landscape, when her father falls ill. She meets her estranged sister (the relationship broken after a childhood trauma).
Yet as Evie clears out her father’s house, she finds herself drawn to a group of cold-water swimmers, who find calmness beneath the waves. And together they help her face up to mistakes of the past, unlocking a treasure of truths that will reverbate through the community, and shake her family to its core.