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Sign Swim England pledge and join fight for cleaner open water

Swim England is calling on open water swimmers to support its new pledge to help improve water quality – as startling statistics show sewage was discharged into rivers 400,000 times in 2020.

The recognised national governing body is a staunch supporter of the #EndSewagePollution campaign and is now urging millions of open water swimmers to join the fight for cleaner waters.

Only 14 per cent of the country’s rivers are in a ‘good’ ecological condition – a figure that has not changed since 2009 – and the UK ranks 25th out of 30 European nations for coastal water quality.

The Swim England pledge is calling for cleaner waters, better access and increased safety for open water swimmers.

By signing it, people will be adding weight to the #EndSewagePollution campaign, which sees a coalition of organisations, environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), local campaign groups, national governing bodies, media and ocean activists combine forces to fight for cleaner waters.

Signatories will help to demonstrate to the Government and water companies the strength of feeling of this issue amongst the Swim England community – and they will also receive information and template letters to help them campaign in their local area.

Jon Glenn, Swim England’s learn to swim director, encouraged anyone who has been involved in open water swimming to support the pledge.

He said: “Open water swimming has always been an extremely popular way to get active but with pools being forced to close throughout the coronavirus pandemic, there are signs it’s being enjoyed by more people than ever before.

“However, the quality of the water people are swimming in is sadly a long way off the standards we would expect.

“The health of outdoor swimmers is being threatened by the levels of pollution in our rivers and waterways. The discharge of raw untreated sewage into rivers places swimmers at greater risk of the potential transmission of viruses and other water-borne pathogens.

Key role

“This has to stop. We hope to show the true level of feeling against this issue by getting as many people as possible to sign the pledge and show it’s time action was taken to improve water quality.”

A recent Trends in Outdoor Swimming Report published by Outdoor Swimming magazine showed that 70 per cent were more concerned about water pollution.

The Environment Agency received £15 million from the Government in 20919-20 to help fund water quality work – but with more than 240,600km of rivers and streams in England alone, it works out at around £62 to help protect and enhance each kilometre of watercourse.

Jon added: “This is not a problem that is simply going to disappear and it’s vital we act quickly to prevent it getting worse.

“Open water swimming offers huge mental and physical health benefits – but not if people are going to get ill due to the poor water quality.

“By signing our pledge, you will be playing a key role in helping us and everyone connected with the #EndSewagePollution coalition to ensure people can swim safely in clean open water.”

Find out more and sign up to the pledge here.