I watched the swimmer emerge from the sea on to the beach in a tiny cove on the south coast of Guernsey. The weather was awful, gale force winds, torrential rain, the temperature was close to single figures. It must have been difficult to even walk in the extreme swell of the waves. They towered above the swimmer as she gained the beach and made her way to her means of transport. A mountain bike leaned against the sea wall. A swimmer was the last thing I had expected to see in such hostile conditions. “How often do you swim here” I asked the woman as she recovered her breath. She was of senior years and not your typical swimmer. At first sight not best suited to be doing what she was doing. “Only when the weather is good”, she replied, smiling as she prepared to ride her bike up the access road from the cove to home. A 12% gradient for over a mile. Respect!
It was not the first example of extreme swimming I had seen on my holiday. There had been others like those swimming in Guernsey’s iconic, primitive, tidal sea water pools. This though is what some people do for their health. Others, according to Swim England, 14million of us each year, that’s 31% of the population swim in 5000 public pools. Very many of us do it for the health benefits swimming can bring, particularly those like the lady I saw in the sea. They are not lap swimmers or competitive swimmers. Just people swimming or bathing in seas, lakes, ponds or pools for the perceived health benefits this brings them. Swim England has published some ground-breaking statistics on the Value of Swimming which for the first time evaluates these health effects. You should have a copy, see the link below. You also need to be acutely aware of our influence, that is those of us that help provide the environment for swimming healthily. We need to be constantly improving what we do. To make swimming increasingly the health activity of choice by providing water and a total bathing experience that is pleasurable and above all healthy. We can’t do much about the seas and lakes, but we have a major role to play in pool water. That’s PWTAG’s raison d’etre. Our principle if not only reason for doing what we do. Which make us unique and very important to at least 31% of the population!
Value of Swimming Report