We put your questions to SH₂OUT. This is how they answered
SH₂OUT is a joint project that has been developed through a partnership between British Triathlon and the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK). The project aims to promote and progress safe open water swimming. Over recent months questions have been raised among the open water swimming community about what SH₂OUT is seeking to achieve. There’s even a petition asking to “Stop the SH₂OUT campaign from regulating and taking control of outdoor swimming.” We therefore decided to take your questions and concerns directly to SH₂OUT. Here’s how they replied.
Is it true that SH₂OUT wants to stop people swimming in water below 11 degrees?
No, absolutely not. SH₂OUT does not want to restrict or control any groups or their activities. The SH₂OUT project has set a framework to provide guidance for operators of open water swim sites and where the operator decides how their site will be managed in a way that best suits their needs and the needs for those who swim there.
Will SH₂OUT accredited venues have to close when the water temperature is below 11 degrees?
No, and in reality, a few SH₂OUT accredited sites choose to operate at temperatures below 11 degrees. It just means they operate outside SH₂OUT accredited guidelines during that period.
What impact will SH₂OUT have on wild swimming locations?
SH₂OUT is not designed to influence or manage wild swimming.
We do not want to stop people swimming but provide swimmers, particularly those new to open water swimming, with assurance that they’ve chosen a venue that is accredited and works within a particular framework.
The feedback we have received over the last two years has been really positive, facilitating the opening of new sites where swimming was previously banned (ie. Sywell in Northamptonshire).
Will wetsuits be compulsory when the water is below 14 degrees at SH₂OUT venues?
The decision to wear a wetsuit while swimming is down to the individual and the venue. The guidance from SH₂OUT is to wear a wetsuit below 14 degrees to help with body temperature and additional buoyancy. SH₂OUT provides beginners and open water swimmers with the information they need to ensure they have the best experience.
Is SH₂OUT just a “money generating scheme”?
SH₂OUT is not a money generating scheme. SH₂OUT was created to provide swimmers, especially those new to open water swimming, with some reassurance about where they were choosing to swim. Fear of open water swimming is a huge barrier to triathlon and this is why SH₂OUT was created, so that people can have an amazing open water swimming experience and know what to expect.
In the future will all commercial venues in effect be forced to become SH₂OUT accredited in order to buy insurance and/or protect themselves in court if there was a serious accident?
No. We don’t accept that this will be the case. SH₂OUT is designed to drive a safety culture where operators put in place safety arrangements aligned to the levels of risk associated with the activities they provide.
We’ve heard rumours that wild swimming groups have been approached and told they ought to become SH₂OUT accredited. Do you know if this is happening and what advice do you have for informal swimming groups?
There is no accreditation process for informal groups, so this is not coming from the SH₂OUT team. Our advice to informal groups would be to do your research (about the places you intend to swim, get the inside knowledge) make your plans around the weakest swimmers and know what you are going to do in an emergency, should you need to. Swimming is a great sport and recreational activity and we are all passionate about our part of the sport, wild swimming is everything for some people just as triathlon is for others.