Working with the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), event organiser Henley Swim has launched an initiative to create three new open water swimming clubs in the upper Thames area.
Speaking at a launch event in Henley Town Hall on 27 March 2014, Henley Swim co-founder Jeremy Laming explained that currently open water swimming, as a sport, is very much concentrated around events and competition. This makes the sport exclusive and off-putting to many people who might enjoy the recreational and social aspects but don’t want to race. This leads him to worry that the current growth and interest in the sport is unsustainable.
To make the sport more welcoming and to lower barriers to entry Laming would like to see the development of open water swimming clubs across the country that cater for people of all abilities and interests.
Speakers from the floor noted that many people taking up open water swimming have not received formal swimming instruction as children and therefore face a number of obstacles in accessing the sport. Pool-based masters swimming clubs in many cases cater for ex-junior swimmers and often offer more in the way of training than the stroke development and improvement that people new to swimming are looking for. Where open water swimming groups exist they tend to be informal and arranged through groups of friends so people who are not connected find it difficult to join in.
The pilot clubs scheme envisaged by Henley Swim and the ASA has defined its objective as follows:
“Build on the popularity of open water swimming, by running a pilot to create three open water swimming clubs in the Upper Thames region.”
The purpose of the pilot clubs would be:
- Create a model of self managing sustainable clubs that can then be rolled out nationwide.
- Create new swimming communities and give them access to a safe, welcoming and structured approach to getting involved with swimming
- Target new demographics and new formats of open water swimming
- Encourage challenge, camaraderie, health and fitness, and good swimming
The three clubs in the pilot scheme will receive support and guidance from the ASA including subsidies for ASA and club membership and open water safety training.
To work, the scheme needs volunteers to set up and run these clubs. If you’re interested, contact Jeremy firstname.lastname@example.org