FEATURES,  View from the Water

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: simon@outdoorswimmer.com

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.