British Triathlon and the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) launched their open water swimming venue accreditation yesterday (Tuesday 30 May), with the SH?OUT website now live and taking applications from open water venues.
West Reservoir, in Hackney, London, provided the venue for the informal launch event, with the warm and dry weather offering a backdrop for swimmers and guests alike.
Open water swimming has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years, with Sport England’s Active People Survey showing that more and more individuals are opting for the lake rather than a local pool. With participation numbers growing by 15,000 between October 2012 and April 2016, British Triathlon and RLSS UK note that there’s never been more need to ensure the activity’s safety.
RLSS UK is a leading provider of water safety education and qualifications and seeks to help reduce the figure of 400 accidental drownings in open water each year. In partnership with British Triathlon, the SH?OUT concept was developed.
SH?OUT accreditation certifies that venues have met a minimum level of safety in both documentation and open water swimming operation. The process to become accredited is now live and hopes to see 10 ‘Safe Venues’ certificated this summer.
The Hackney event also saw the official SH?OUT website launch, bringing the project to life and providing a one-stop-shop for support and guidance for the open water swimming community.
RLSS UK Ambassador, Greg Whyte OBE said “SH?OUT is all about making open water safe and accessible to anyone who wants to give it a try, as well as for the seasoned athletes. It’s great to see so many people coming together to make this a reality.”
RLSS UK Chief Executive Officer Di Steer said: “We’re so lucky to have access to venues as fabulous as West Reservoir for open water swimming that are now undergoing the accreditation process. I’m delighted that we have such strong backing from our partners in the SH?OUT campaign and it was a privilege to meet so many of them today.”
British Triathlon Chief Executive Officer, Jack Buckner said “The development of the SH?OUT accreditation product means having the ability to offer safe open water swimming sites for all participants in the sport. We hope, in turn, this will increase the number of people in the UK taking part in regular physical activity – a hugely exciting prospect.”
British Triathlon and RLSS UK’s joint open water strategy was initially announced in January of this year and the SH?OUT partnership has five clear objectives for open water swimming enthusiasts, whatever their level: safe venues, secure events, vibrant community, inspiring participation and industry guidance.
As the partnership develops, SH?OUT aims to ensure that the swimmer feels supported and has a positive open water experience, which has prompted the development of the Swimmer Survey.