April Bawsey: Right to Swim

Our monthly swim at Bawsey 21 April was for the #RightToSwim, in solidarity with the annual Kinder Swim Trespass and swims being done around the country around 28 April. Swimmers need the Right to Swim inland all across the country – in lakes that were once gravel pits, in reservoirs, and in rivers. Read tips to do your own swim trespass.

We always join together for a photo with placards from alpkit – the red ‘Go Swimming’ ones from last year’s Kinder that we’ve been using for all of the eight monthly swims (and before), and the new ones for this year that say “We Have The RIGHT TO SWIM”. And sometimes we have home-made banners made by people who come along, including the wonderful Valentines day celebration of swimming in February made by the Bluetits. Photos in this post from several earlier swims. We hold them up with pride as we call for better access and for the #RightToSwim.  (This month we also publicised #BeWaterAware – read about our support for this campaign.)

As the Outdoor Swimming Society post about the Kinder Swim Trespass explains, our call for access to water is becoming an unstoppable force, recognising the growing demand for everyone to be able to enjoy the outdoors. Access to water for disabled people is a key part of the campaign, and we will be saying more about this and how it relates to Bawsey soon – watch this space. 

Access to the outdoors to swim is essential for families, for young people, and for groups from all parts of the community. As well as being fun, healthy, beneficial, affordable and local, it means that people will be able to learn about outdoor swimming and how to stay safe from an early age. Our meeting with a family on the day of our first monthly swim in September illustrated this perfectly.

We want to give people confidence to swim even in places where the atmosphere is not always welcoming. For many it can be harder to swim in the face of potential challenge, so we all support each other by going swimming in groups. Unfortunately, at Bawsey there is aggressive no swimming signs and messaging, which could mar the beauty of these delightful lakes. This is because of a long period of misinformation and misunderstanding about swimming safety and the location. We are challenging this by showing that they are safe places to swim with knowledge and responsibility, and with detailed info.

We hope one day to see a change in this approach – which is inevitable as more and more people will Go Swimming here to assert their Right to Swim. Soon a new generation will see swimming and paddling in the shallows here and other inland places as normal and enjoyable things to do. 

Swimmers are meeting at Bawsey to show their support for The Outdoor Swimming Society’s Inland Access Manifesto calling for freedom to swim and the call from Right to Roam for a right to responsible access to land and water, as in Scotland. Read more about Wild Swimming and Access. To show that we need more access to swim, we suggest swimmers Go Swimming!

Location details: Bawsey Pits or Lakes

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