Swim cleaning – swimmers clean up the Thames

02nd August, 2017

Outdoor Swimming Society members from the OSS Thames Group recently swam through Oxford and completed a river clean up.

A delayed spring clean – swimmers took to the water to enjoy the warmer waters but with the main aim to clean up the River Thames. “We were inspired by seeing so much litter on previous swims, but had no idea of what so expect,” says Thames swimmer Chris Dalton. The group set off with three swimmers, two kayakers and a bank support walker. The plan was to swim from Danger Bridge at Port Meadow to Folly Bridge downstream of the city. “The litter presented itself immediately and before we had even gone 100 metres our bags were full and we were ready to start handing off litter to the kayakers,” says Chris.

It turned out to be slow swim. The three-kilometre distance, which would normally have taken around an hour and a half, ended up taking three and a half hours. “In that time we collected six bin bags full of rubbish mostly consisting of plastic bottles and polystyrene kebab containers,” says Chris. “We also found a few more interesting items such as a lantern, a sharps disposal box (sealed, thankfully), an office chair and two bikes. One of the bikes was a bike scheme bike so we heaved it out and called the company to let them know where it was.”

Fancy doing a swim-clean?

  • The top tip is to wear a wetsuit.  Even when the water is warm it gets cold when you’re swimming slowly for so long.  You have to swim slowly to spot the rubbish.
  • Plan on breast stroking the whole way.  Don’t wear your best racing wetsuit though as rummaging around in the undergrowth is likely to cause some damage!
  • Wear some gloves to protect your hands.
  • To transport the rubbish we used net bags attached to tow floats. Once the bags were full we handed the rubbish off to kayakers carrying bin bags.
  • Make sure you wash your hands well afterwards.

Great work Team Thames! Thanks to: Kayakers, Jeremy Wellingham and Hywel Davies. Bank support and photos: Charles Bryant.  Swimmers: Sharon Curtis, Karen Bellcourt and Chris Dalton.