For the outdoor swimming community in the UK, the past week has presented several visions of hell. Aerial shots of beaches showing more people than sand. Photographs of riversides strewn with litter and abandoned inflatables. Several deaths at weirs, sea and rivers. Footage of people leaping from Durdle Door as they are cheered on, watched in the knowledge that those people sustained serious injuries.
The relaxation of lockdown to various degrees across the UK has coincided with many other factors which have led to unprecedented pressure on our waterways and the land around them. Everyone wants to be in water during a heatwave; schools have been closed and children at home; furloughed workers are free to satisfy their renewed thirst for nature after weeks within four walls; and many of the places to which we would normally disperse (pubs, pools, shops, gyms, other countries) are still out of bounds.
There has been a huge increase in popularity of outdoor swimming in recent years, in which The OSS has played a significant role by providing a peer to peer community for swimmers, a platform for groups, and information on swimming spots.
115,000 unique users visited wildswim.com, a crowd-sourced guide to swimming spots around the world that we partner, in May, up from a monthly average of 42k in May. 14k unique users searched the map on Saturday 29th May alone (a site record). Last week, 11,500 people looked at our online guide to UK local wild swim groups.
So, how are we tackling this issue, as an organisation and as a community?
While doing a raindance (a break in the weather would solve a lot of the issues) The OSS team has been looking at ways it can help support both the swim and wider community during this time:
The OSS is advising swimmers to: