THRILL-SEEKING open water swimmers' safety will be revolutionised by an innovative new initiative making a nationwide splash.
And one of England's fastest growing sports will continue to flourish as restrictions ease thanks to community-championing changes blazing an accessibility trail.
That's the message from Triathlon England CEO and open water swimming enthusiastic Andy Salmon, who is spearheading a game-changing campaign called Beyond Swim that will catalyse the expansion of the sport across the country.
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Created by Triathlon England and supported by Swim England and the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS UK), the initiative will enhance the safety of thousands of venues by providing swimmers with safe, enjoyable and consistent experiences - regardless of ability.
Beyond Swim will provide accreditation for venues to ensure they comply with the highest standards of safety and Salmon, Triathlon England CEO since 2017, says the programme has come at the perfect time.
Salmon, 52, said: "Beyond Swim is all about establishing a network of venues across the country where safety is the first consideration.
"And it's also about creating a huge community of people who love open water swimming, can go and connect with these accredited venues and be part of a wider open water swimming family.
"The two fundamental pillars of Beyond Swim are providing safe venues and creating a community for open water swimmers. This is about getting people into open water swimming and sharing the joy of the sport.
"One of the benefits of Beyond Swim is that we can demystify, and take that apprehension out of people's minds, about getting involved in open water swimming. It's about getting people really comfortable about getting into open water for a swim.
"Open water swimming has something for everybody - and we're determined to make it completely accessible for everyone.
"Triathlon England, Swim England and RLSS UK all share the same objective. We want to see more people enjoying swimming and doing so safely.
"It was a very obvious partnership to strike up and we're really excited about what it might produce down the line."
Beyond Swim places safety front and centre of open water swimming while also fostering a feel-good environment of community.
Open water swimmers will receive high-quality experiences and industry-leading guidance at thousands of venues, with discounts being available at accredited waterways and lakes nationwide.
Established open water swimmers will receive discounts at accredited venues to incentivise activity, while newcomers will also be welcomed through the inclusive environments Beyond Swim will create.
Swimmers will be able to choose from exclusive merchandise discounts after every ten swims they rack up, with rewards such as planting trees - or donating to charity - also available.
The popularity of open water swimming - and its proven physical and mental health benefits - was propelled to new heights during lockdown as Brits adapted to restrictions by exercising in new ways.
The Beyond Swim programme is a springboard for continuing that trend and Jon Glenn, Learn to Swim & Workforce Director at Swim England, believes prioritising swimmers' safety will make a massive difference.
Glenn, who has worked for Swim England for almost two decades, said: "Open water swimming makes you free and independent - and Beyond Swim will bring that open water community together.
"I'll now know that if I go down to my local beyond swim centre, that the water quality is going to be okay, there's going to be a lifeguard and it's going to be run safely.
"We all want to make sure the sport is done in a nice, safe environment, and if we can help people make their way to those safe environments and enjoy open swimming there, then that's fantastic."
Lee Heard, Charity Director at RLSS UK, added: "We feel it's really important be able to support the growth of open water swimming in a safe and considered way.
"We want to make sure people know they can go somewhere that's safe, well-managed and with safety considered to really help build a community.
"We want people to get into the water - and it's so crucial for us that the public feel confident to go and try these activities.
"Hopefully through Beyond Swim, people will see open water swimming is a great activity to get involved in."
Beyond Swim is designed to offer something for every member of the open water swimming community by providing safe, enjoyable and consistent experiences, regardless of ability. For more information and to join the community visit www.beyondswim.org
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