The Outdoor Swimming Society (The OSS) was established in 2006 to pioneer outdoor swimming in rivers, lakes, lido and seas.
Led by Founder Kate Rew, The OSS has spearheaded significant cultural change in the way outdoor swimming is viewed and the number of people who take part in it. Full of doers, thinkers and creatives, The OSS team uses its talents and personal time to drive change. Over the last 15 years we have had a direct impact on individuals’ swimming habits, inland access, social swimming networks and open water events, all of which has contributed to the lido revival, and the current art, science and culture around swimming.
The OSS prides itself on originality, a kind heart and free spirit. Staying true to our renegade and maverick roots, we have chosen to remain a volunteer run society that does not charge for membership.
In 2006 we had 300 members, and were unique in encouraging swimming outdoors and giving people who loved outdoor water a home and identity. Now swimming has hit a tipping point with (in the UK for example) 7.5 million people swimming in open water and in outdoor pools in 2018 (Sport England Active Lives Survey).
The OSS prides itself on originality, a kind heart and free spirit. Staying true to our renegade and maverick roots, we have chosen to remain a volunteer run society that does not charge for membership. We offer a place to belong, and remain free to lead from the front, to set our own agenda and to do what we find inspiring and fun.
The OSS now has 100,000 members across it’s channels, with half a million visitors to the OSS website and partner website wildswim.com.
We curate numerous platforms where members connect: The Outdoor Swimming Society website, a Facebook page, a Facebook group, Instagram, Twitter, wildswim.com (a free crowdsourced worldwide swim map) and from 2020, will run a free virtual monthly magazine, Elsewhere. In 2019 we also started Zeno’s Swim Club, a virtual winter swimming club #thestoics.
We embrace outdoor swimming’s ability to slip us out of recognisable reality. Described variously as ‘the most magic club in the world’ and ‘the friendliest place on the internet’, we enable people to ‘find the others’ – people they enjoy as much as they enjoy swimming.
OSS members share a belief and an attitude, not a demographic. We embrace outdoor swimming’s ability to slip us out of recognisable reality, into something better. We embrace swimming’s ability to enlarge and celebrate the beauty of every day, and enhance the landscape and people we meet within it. Described variously as ‘the most magic club in the world’ and ‘the friendliest place on the internet’, we enable people to ‘find the others’ – people they enjoy as much as they enjoy swimming.
Our members practise all types of swimming: winter, wild, social, swimming, competitive, adventure, endurance, recreational, lido and skinny dipping, and swim everywhere it is possible to swim: river, lake, lido, sea, loch, tarn, reservoir, waterfall and wadi. And we are drawn from all ages and backgrounds and from all over the world: while predominantly British, we have strong cohorts in America, Australia, Europe and contributors from Iran to Mongolia.
As originators first and foremost, in our 15th year we are connectors and celebrators too: here to shine a full moon beam on the innovations and storytellers within our community.
Often first to the party (or the source of the party) we remain committed to giving outdoor swimmers – often non-joiners at heart – a point of access to other swimmers and types of swimming. As originators first and foremost, in our 15th year we are now connectors and celebrators too: here to shine a full moon beam on the innovations and storytellers within our community. Our mission is to keep things fresh and interesting; to share what we learn and enjoy and give a platform to stories, ideas and people within the community, which are amusing, inspiring or need to be heard.
The team behind The OSS is a small family of doers, adventurers, explorers, writers, thinkers and photographers, driven by a shared interest in swimming. We hope you enjoy what we’ve made, and that our community gives you a space and network that accessorises your swimming better than any new purchase. Please see our Members page for more on how to join and the Team page for the people who make us.
May you make good friends, have good adventures and be gifted with good insights.
OSS Team, January 2020
PLEASE DONATE TO US!
The Outdoor Swimming Society is largely run by people giving their time and talents rather than money. However we do have monthly bills to pay, to keep our website and wheels turning. These are generally met via events, of which there is going to be some disruption in 2020 because of the coronavirus. If you are able to donate something to the society, please do – we appreciate this are hard times for everyone, and our team will be working hard to bring light into dark places, and share warmth and connectivity with swimmers the world over.