Wild swimmers hold protest in Bristol Harbour

The group are campaigning to change the current by-law in place that prevents people from swimming in the harbour on safety grounds​

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The swimmers took to the water early on Monday morning, taking safety precautions such as looking out for boats, swimming in pairs, using slow breathing techniques when entering and having lifesaving equipment on standby

Wild swimming campaigners in Bristol staged a protest swim in the city’s Floating Harbour on Bank Holiday Monday – before they were forced out of the water by the Harbour Master.

The swim commenced the group's campaign to change the current by-law in place that prevents people from swimming in the harbour on safety grounds, on the basis of the number of boats in the harbour, the risk of cold-water shock, drowning, and poor water quality.

Leader local activist and Warleigh Weir landowner, Jonny Palmer, says that now the water quality in the harbour is so good – and often registers as ‘excellent’ – “it makes total sense for us to start the conversation about this becoming an accessible amenity for the people of Bristol to use”.

The swimmers took to the water early on Monday morning, taking safety precautions such as looking out for boats, swimming in pairs, using slow breathing techniques when entering and having lifesaving equipment on standby.

However, the group were swiftly told to leave the water by the Harbour Master and were told “it is against the law”.

Palmer says: “I get it, the Harbour Master and other bureaucracies don't want swimming in the water of our city.

“Many of their concerns are valid as there have been deaths and other serious incidents in the harbour. With the right education, messaging and culture we can reduce these risks though - indeed, swimming the harbour can actually make it a safer place overall. Simple things like regular simple training, having a designated area for swimming and zero alcohol can make it so much safer.”

Find out more about the campaign at https://www.swimbristolharbour...

01 Cover June 21

Issue 50 June 2021

  • The Spell of the Sea: Why does the ocean hold such an allure?
  • How can we turn the tide and make outdoor swimming more accessible for all?
  • Smash you mile PB with a training plan from triple Olympian Keri-anne Payne
  • Adventure swimming: How to get started in swimcamping
  • Will swimming outdoors make my Raynaud's worse?

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