Swim community

July in the swim community

NOWCA introduces outdoor swimming to Blenheim Palace, and a Mental Health Swims host shares his inspiring story. Stay up to date with our outdoor swimming community news for July 2024

NOWCA: swimming at Blenheim Palace

We are always excited to be involved in projects that enable more water, for more people, more safely. Over the past 12 months we have supported the introduction of open water swimming at Blenheim Palace Lake, Oxfordshire. Bringing open water swimming to such a high profile location has its challenges but NOWCA are experienced in finding solutions that can deliver a safe and enjoyable experience for the community.

Collaborating with a local operator and the Blenheim Palace team, we aim to deliver a vision – for Blenheim Palace Lake to be a safe and accessible venue to open water swimmers on a more regular basis.

On 21 May 2024, we hosted our first trial swim at Blenheim Palace Lake. The session was limited to 50 swimmers and sold out in 24 minutes! At the trial swim we were able to demonstrate how our safety system enable staff to prioritise and manage swimmer safety. With the right planning and support, our shared vision could soon become a reality!

Feedback from the trial swim has been overwhelmingly positive and discussions have already begun for a second trial swim. 

To follow the progress of this potential venue, simply download the free NOWCA Wild app and join our group: BLENHEIM INTEREST GROUP

Mental Health Swims host David shares his story

I’m David and I became a swim host 12 months ago. Along with my co-hosts, Suzy, Cathy and Ann, we lead a monthly Mental Health Swim at the Jesus Green Lido, which is a partnership with the sports organisation Better, Cambridge City Council and Mental Health Swims.

We each play to our strengths and offer different ways of welcoming and supporting our swimmers. It delights me to witness those who at the start are reluctant to even dip toes in, squeal with delight as they get used to the temperature and begin to enjoy the challenge. We start with an overview of this innovative approach to community development, introductions and then we split into groups based on people’s experience. Afterwards, we all meet for a hot drink to share stories of the experience and get to know each other better.

I didn’t learn to swim until I was a teenager and would not describe myself as a strong swimmer. However, swimming has become part of my life, especially open water swimming, and helps me keep well in mind and body. There’s something about creating a swimming community, where we gradually get to know each other, listen to each other’s ups and downs, and feel connected to a force greater than ourselves – nature. Being a swim host invites me to grow parts of me that would otherwise remain in the dark, vulnerable and scared.

Find out how you can become a Mental Health Swims swim host: mentalhealthswims.co.uk

Stay up to date with The Dip, our free weekly outdoor swimming newsletter.

Outdoor Swimmer is the magazine for outdoor swimmers by outdoor swimmers. We write about fabulous wild swimming locations, amazing swim challenges, swim training advice and swimming gear reviews.