Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fwd: Swimming to remember

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Simon Griffiths" <>
Date: Sep 19, 2012 9:11 AM
Subject: Swimming to remember
To: "Mark Rauterkus" <>

  >> Take a fresh look at swimming

H2Open Newsletter no.24

In 1947, members of Farleigh & District swimming club built a set of diving boards on the banks of the River Frome and dedicated them to 12 of their colleagues who had lost their lives during the Second World War.

Farleigh & District is one of the few remaining river swimming clubs in the UK. Once a competitive club with a strong water polo team, it has now evolved into a family friendly leisure swimming club, with an idyllic setting to while-away a sunny afternoon.

The 1947 diving boards sadly fell into disrepair and modern health and safety regulations determined they couldn't be replaced due to insufficient water depth. Back then, after sending millions of young men to their deaths in war, the risk of injury from leaping into a river probably seemed immaterial.

Alongside the diving boards the club put up a memorial plaque listing the names of 12 club members killed in fighting. At some point, date unknown, the plaque vanished and was assumed lost, until around five years ago when a diver found a blackened piece of metal in the river. It scrubbed up nicely, but with the diving boards now out of commission the question of where to put the Club War Memorial arose.

Rob Fryer, chair of Farleigh & District club, eventually found a spot in an alcove at Stowford Manor Farm, which owns the land where the club now meets. Fryer also felt the memorial, and the memory of the men who'd died, deserved a ceremony so he organised a re-dedication service last weekend (16 September 2012), which included hymns, a reading and a roll-call of the 12 by current club members, including a nephew of one of the soldiers. As well as swimmers (some of which had just taken a dip in the 13 degree river), a number of ex- and current service men and women attended, along with the Mayor of Trowbridge.

Standing on the banks of the Frome today in the peaceful Wiltshire countryside it's easy to imagine the young men leaping, carefree, from the boards, a brief moment of flight before plunging into the cool green water. It's much harder to imagine those men as fighter pilots going down in flames, as sailors lost at sea or infantry men under enemy fire, but that's how they died.

Their sacrifice means we're still free to enjoy the simple pleasure of swimming outside, and share the same feelings of exhilaration when leaping in, the same tingle as the water chills our skin and the same glow as the body rewarms in the sun.

Next time you swim, spare these men a thought.

SimonHappy Swimming
Simon Griffiths
Editor, H2Open Magazine

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Picture of the week

Mark Bayliss on his way to breaking the Arch to Arc record on 8 September 2012, swimming through the night. Mark is also the first person to complete the challenge (running from London to Dover, swimming the English Channel and then cycling to Paris) without using a wetsuit. Photo (C) Ryan Bowd.

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Coming up in our October issue

We're working hard on the October issue of H2Open Magazine at the moment. If you're not already a subscriber, sign up now to ensure delivery. Look out for:

  • Avoiding event day mishaps
  • Cassie Patten's analysis of the Olympic marathon swim
  • Eva Risztov, women's 10k winner
  • Trent Grimsey on breaking the English Channel record
  • Open water swimming in New Zealand and Greece
  • Surf Lifesaving
  • Make your own energy bars

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Take a fresh look at swimming is a regular newsletter from H2Open, the world's only dedicated open water swimming magazine. H2Open is published 7 times a year in the UK and is available on subscription world wide. H2Open is for all open water swimmers, whether you're a wild swimmer, competitor or long-distance challenger. To find out more see
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