Breckland swimmers: 2020 memories; 2021 hopes

To reflect a year that started sociably, had long periods of lockdown restrictions, and saw outdoor swimming become extremely popular, Breckland swimmers share their favourite swims from 2020 and their hopes for 2021

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Baz Hale, IWD swim 8 March 2020

The Outdoor Swimming in Breckland group has had quite a year! (Who hasn’t?) We started with the group growing and social swims becoming more popular, with a fantastic International Women’s Day’s swim at the beginning of March, followed by difficult months of lockdown, during which group members respected coronavirus rules and were sensitive about swimming.  

Many have joined us and enjoyed swimming, especially during the gloriously hot days of summer, but also into autumn and winter. As the group grew in size (from 190 in Jan 2020), we marked reaching 500 in July, when members shared some thoughts about why they swim, and photos, then 750 in October, when we collected thoughts and photos about swimming in cool water from the group.

To mark the New Year (when we were at 885 members) we asked people about their favourite outdoor swim memory from 2020 in Breckland, and about their hopes for next year. Although restrictions continue, we are all hopeful that we will be able to meet up again not too far into 2021.

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So this was my first swim, end of July I think. Have done at least one a week since. Met lots of lovely people – just keep swimming folks x


My most memorable swim at the lake was possibly my first there when I met some amazing supportive ladies who really inspired me. Thank you all this year was made for me by meeting you xx  Zoe

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A particularly sunny, joyful swim with Jo and Shauna. Later remembered in the following print which is now on my wall. Xxx Kathryn

Women’s Day swim sounds fab, hope I can take part one day. X Sarah

Laying on my back in the lake watching shooting stars.Swimming to the end of the lake and back after many many short swims building up to it. Exploring the spooky area next to the lake! Completing a dip at 30 different locations, most in Norfolk, before my 30th birthday! Gosh there are sooooo many wonderful swim memories! Shauna


I really love this photo taken by Kathryn’s husband last March, Clare


There have been many great moments this year, saw some lovely sunsets. Clare

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Ended the year with a safe swim at Felixstowe with Joanne. Only started in September at the Thorpe Woodlands session [part of the Healing Waters project, see end of post] but have swum at least once a week since and whilst I won’t be able to continue that in 2021 (forced break from Feb due to a hand op) I do plan to swim as much as I can! Ellen

In Breckland this year I had a series of cold but sociable swims at the beginning of the year, followed by wonderful breakfasts and cakes at Browns cafe. Then following a long period staying away nearer to home, there were a few gloriously warm summer swims in the lake and some cooler but delightful late summer swims in the Thet at Bridgham, and with further lockdowns approaching a few brief chilly dips in autumn. Sadly I won’t be in the area for a while, but look forward to life improving this year and to many more lovely swims. I think that outdoor swimming will continue to grow in popularity as people have discovered its joys and won’t be travelling further afield or abroad so much. Popularity does bring tensions and impact, but our responsible and enthusiastic swimmers stand ready to help to ease and deal with these issues, and on balance the fact that so many people are enjoying this healthy and affordable local activity is very positive for the area. Imogen

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Jo Swimming in Autumn sunshine, river Thet, photo Imogen

The Facebook group, Outdoor Swimming in Breckland is a place for members of the group to meet other swimmers (following Covid19 rules) and learn about swimming safety and issues in the area.

The Healing Waters project in Breckland held the first training session to introduce outdoor swimming and being safe on 13 September – and many group members started off there, like Ellen [see above]. We are planning more for 2021 – for more info see Outdoor Swimming practical project begins 2020, plans 2021.