Share the Adventure
Film  ·  Events  ·  Culture  ·  People  ·  16-19 Nov 2017

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The Outdoor Swimming Society

Pewter water, a breeze rippling across to the far hills... a slow meander between green banks....clouds scudding over the sunlit lido… the wild exhilaration of cool water..... The excitement of a fresh challenge....

The Outdoor Swimming Society provides a space within which a community of independent spirits can share the joy and adventure of swimming outdoors, and put the fun back into swimming. In the early 1900s there were river swimming clubs and lidos all over the country, but outdoor swimming died out as indoor pools came in.

Outdoor swimming can be hard to define, and we don’t really want to pin it down. Perhaps the one shared element for all of us is that we swim under an open sky. Otherwise we are a very broad church, swimming lakes, lochs and lidos, salt and fresh, cool and cold, and of course bloody cold! We enjoy the sport of swimming as well as the art, and there are dawdlers and racers, poets and pacemakers. Some wear skins, some wear just their skin. Some are dolphins, some are pike, some are frogs or swans. We don’t see a right or wrong way to swim, it is taking the plunge that matters.

Here is our manifesto:

  • We believe swimming enlarges and celebrates the beauty of each day.
  • We believe in sharing the joy and adventure of swimming.
  • We believe all have a right to swim under an open sky.
  • We believe in open access to lakes and rivers and in keeping lidos open
  • We believe clean water in our lakes and rivers is a fundamental right.
  • We embrace the delight of cold (and colder) water and its rejuvenating effects.
  • We promise to strip and dip wherever we can.

The OSS aims to represent the interests of all the different kinds of outdoor swimmer by providing inspiration, connection and a community. We provide information about places to go outdoor swimming, and about events. We also provide advice about swimming safety and other aspects, and we help people to connect, and share projects, websites, advice, photos, videos, stories, experiences and ideas.

We don´t organise events (with one or two exceptions) and we are not a teaching organisation, we see ourselves more as a grapevine or a loose framework in which all the different Outdoor Swimming activity in the UK can come together.

Through the website, our Facebook group, Instagram feed and association with the crowd-sourced map wildswim.com we seek to keep outdoor swimming wild and free, supporting all those keeping lidos open and lakes and rivers clean and accessible, and promoting outdoor swimming in all its myriad forms.

The OSS was established in 2006. 10 years ago outdoor waters were perceived by many as uninviting: dangerous, illegal, dirty and cold. Since then they have become increasingly something to be celebrated, photographed, written about and explored. The body of knowledge on safety is growing and the common sense of the community with it, as is our resource section to assist people swimming safely. We are based in the UK but with members worldwide. Please jump in and join us! 

Website for The Outdoor Swimming Society

The Outdoor Swimming Society

The Outdoor Swimming Society on Twitter

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