2019 outdoor swimming news highlights

20th December, 2019

2019 has been an incredible year in the world of outdoor swimming: here are some of the news highlights from OSS news stories and beyond.

Extraordinary swimming feats

One event that stands out above all else in 2019 was Sarah Thomas’ quadruple Channel swim. We wrote about the documentary being made about the attempt and many swimmers obsessively followed her progress online. Her success received the widespread media coverage it deserved – read more about it on the BBC website.

Sarah’s wasn’t the only impressive achievement this year.

Danny Longman completed the fastest known time for swimming across the 13 accessible waters in the Lake District.

OSS South African Swim Champ Carina Bruwer faced strong winds, currents and jellyfish to complete an 18km swim from Spain’s Tabarca Island to Alicante. OSS’ Instagram Editor, Laura Sanderson, completed a Summit to Sea swim of Afon Glaslyn, in Snowdonia.

And another OSS Swim Champ Lindsay Cole completed her journey across the UK, enjoying dips with outdoor swimmers from Devon to Perthshire.

Benefits of outdoor swimming highlighted

Swim England released its Value of Swimming report in November, which included the findings that adults who swim were 4.3 per cent happier than non-swimmers – and with outdoor swimming this happiness boost is more than doubled.

We also highlighted psychologist and sea swimmer Hannah Denton’s new research on the benefits of sea swimming for mental health and wellbeing. All in all, mounting evidence to support what swimmers themselves have always known.

Campaigning voices

Concerns over the climate crisis and rising levels of pollution have been at the forefront of many of our minds this year. Surfers Against Sewage did great work to combat plastic pollution with its beach cleans, which the OSS was delighted to be a Community Partner for, as well as creating a real-time water quality app. The first ever Plastic Free Awards also took place this year to highlight the heroes tackling plastic pollution.

Meanwhile in the Lake District, the campaign #spreadthewordnotheweed raised awareness about the threat posed by invasive, non-native species of weed to some of the last remaining pristine lakes in England.

British Canoeing launched its campaign Clear Access Clear Waters, promoting fair, shared, sustainable open access for all inland water users, including swimmers.

There were also campaigns to return swimming to lakes and disused lidos, including Maldon Marine Lake and Grange Lido.

New places to swim

The outdoor swimming community is a broad church and while many prefer their swimming on the wild side, it was great to see more outdoor swimming facilities opening or being planned. These included Beckenham Place Park’s lake opening for swimming, Brighton’s Sea Lanes receiving planning permission for its outdoor pool and a project launched to bring back lido swimming to Liverpool with the People’s Pool.


Justine Harvey