View from the Water – It’s not a case of ‘out with the old, in with the new’
In our six years as H2Open
Magazine, and now as Outdoor
Swimmer, we’ve always been
guided by the principle that we’re a publication for outdoor swimmers by outdoor swimmers. We publish stories and articles that interest and inspire us and, for the most part, assume that you, our readers, are interested and inspired by the same things.
However, we also believe it’s
important to check our assumptions
from time to time, so between
December 2016 and January 2017 we
ran a survey asking what you want to
see in the magazine. The response was
amazing as more than 500 of you took
the time to complete the survey and
leave detailed written feedback.
We started by asking what type of outdoor swimming did you want to read about, on a scale of 1 to 5.
Wild swimming was the clear leader
here. In fact, 84% of you ranked it as 4
or 5. If that’s you, then check out our
new ‘My Favourite Wild Swimming
Spot’ column, where reader Ed
Richards tells us about his favourite wild swimming spot in Dorset. Once you’ve read that, please email us with your favourite spot. Also, take a look at our articles on swimming the River Wye and exploring the Outer Hebrides.
Second was mass participation
events and races (up to 10km),
followed by long distance swimming
(eg the English Channel) and winter
swimming. Fifth was ultra-endurance
swimming, followed by multi-discipline sports.
While news about elites came in last, 30% of you still ranked it as 4 or 5, so although we’ve decided to drop the dedicated section we had for it in
H2Open, we will still report on these races in the general news section.
We then asked a more detailed
question about the type of articles you
would like to read.
In this case, general news about
outdoor swimming scored highest,
followed by training and technique
advice, practical guides to wild
swimming locations and features about
inspiring, regular swimmers. However,
the difference between the most and least desired type of article is actually
very small – from just under 3.5 on
average to just over 4.5. Even for the
lowest rated (interviews with elite,
professional swimmers), 49% of you
ticked 4 or 5.
Regarding articles about training,
we asked a subsidiary question: should
those articles include plans for specific
distances, such as a mile or 5km?
Exactly 90% of you said yes, so check
out our May issue for 1 mile, 5k and
10k training plans.
The written comments you provided
are fascinating. A few of you asked for
more of the same, which is great as we’ll
now be publishing monthly. Some of
the suggestions are contradictory. For
example, some of you would like more
content about swims outside of the UK
while others want less. We’d love to
keep all of you happy all of the time, but
clearly we can’t. However, increasing our
publication frequency gives us scope for
a wider range of content.
The strongest theme to emerge is
that you want articles aimed at people
who “complete rather than compete”.
Outdoor swimming is about the
experience, the journey and the joy
of being in the water. You are not
triathletes whose primary goal is to get
out of the water and on your bikes as
quickly as possible. Instead, you want
to savour the swimming experience.
That’s not to say you don’t want to
swim faster – you’ve told us you want
training advice on how to get quicker –
it’s just that speed is not your primary
goal. If you get quicker, that’s great. If
not, it doesn’t really matter as long as
you enjoy the swimming.
Thanks again to those of you who
completed our survey. We really
value our communication with
readers. If you missed the survey and
want to suggest something, please
get in contact. And remember, we
always enjoy seeing (and sometimes
publishing) your swimming pictures or
send us your swimming story and we
might print that.
Email Simon at: firstname.lastname@example.org