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‘Excellent’ Nottinghamshire reservoir to offer open water swim sessions

today7 July 2022 6

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A new open water swimming site is set to open at the historic Kings Mill Reservoir this summer. The team behind the swim, Love Open Water, hopes to raise awareness of the mental and physical benefits of open water swimming and get more people in the water.

Kings Mill Reservoir is a local nature reserve that offers a number of different activities including lake walks, adventure centres and now, open swimming. The historic site has been open since 1883.

Head of Development at the National Open Water Coaching Association (NOWCA), Francesca Richards said: “Historically, the reputation of the water not being clean comes from the fact that it isn’t watched over by an ecologist or team of water experts. The local council looks after it so they do a visual analysis which means if they see anything other than crystal clear water then they think it’s algae. They don’t do lab testing, which is what we do, to make sure it’s safe for people to swim in.”

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Swimmers at one of the Love Open Water sessions
Swimmers at one of the Love Open Water sessions

She added: “Our requirements against the EU bathing guidelines 2018 are that all sites that run watersports need to conduct tests for things like eColi. You can get three different stamps: excellent which means the water is high quality, good: which means it’s perfect for swimming and poor: where you wouldn’t get swimmers in. Most commonly, you’ll see sites rated as good but at Kings Mill Reservoir, it’s rated as excellent which is the best you can get.”

Francesca and the team are aware of the challenge that lies in the perception of the water quality at the reservoir. They know it is going to be a massive challenge to get people to feel it is safe to swim in although they are confident that the water quality is excellent.

“It’s going to be a huge challenge. I’m from Mansfield myself and my grandfather was the local doctor there so I’ve known the reputation myself. If the place isn’t wrapped then you think it’s full of things but it’s not. There is a lot of wildlife there that you can see like voles or mink. If you are lucky then you can see otters which come in at the top of the reservoir.”

She added: “People used to sell bird feed there but they had to stop because they were getting overfed. When they stopped selling the birdfeed then it actually dramatically reduced the number of vermin. But we know we have to work on people’s feelings towards this space which really is a jewel in Mansfield and Sutton in Ashfield’s crown.”

So where has the perception come from that the reservoir isn’t clean or that the water may be dangerous? Francesca explains that the stories have been in place for a while but lab testing has meant that it is excellent quality and swimmers don’t need to be concerned.



Swimmers at one of the Love Open Water sessions
Swimmers at one of the Love Open Water sessions

Francesca has a long history of swimming before starting to volunteer with Love Open Water. She quit her job and joined the organisation.

“When I was younger, I was a competitive swimmer until an injury put me out of action. I went to work in the music industry but swimming remained an important part of my physical and mental health regime. I started volunteering at Love Open Water sites and found so much joy in supporting people on their own open water journey that I quit my job and joined The National Open Water Coaching Association (NOWCA) team full time,” she said.

“My mission is to open up more blue spaces to people. Unlocking privately owned sites like reservoirs and breaking down the physical, mental, cultural and educational barriers that stop people getting in the water.”

Love Open Water is holding a soft launch on Thursday, July 7 with different sessions throughout the day including a 4 pm until 7 pm swim. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved and join the swimmers in a full safe session

Francesca said: “We use the NOWCA safety system where all swimmers are required to have memberships which are £15 for a year. This not only ensures the swimmer but it enables the venue to track who is in the water at any one time.”

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Written by: thehitnetwork

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