Calling the WSC!

Dear Lotus – Can you help ?

Are you female, aged 20-30, swim indoors 1-2 times a week and London based? A global sportswear brand wants to better understand the swim habits and training of this demographic. It’s not about being a competitive club swimmer, more about women who regularly incorporate a swim into their fitness and well-being regime individually, and alongside other activities.

The timeframe is very tight for this – please get back to us tonight alotusrises@gmail.com if you are keen to apply and we will send you further details of the straightforward application, which needs to be submitted asap.

If selected, participants will need to be available to take part in a paid study, week commencing 5thNovember 2018. It’s anticipated the research will take up to 1 working day in total, but much of the engagement would fit around day to day life.

At a time when 1 in 4 adults in the UK can’t swim and fear of judgement is identified as a significant barrier for women taking the plunge, we see this engagement as a really positive step. If you fit the criteria and can help us continue to nudge the swimwear world in a positive and inclusive direction – do get in touch.

Please note, A Lotus Rises #wsc will receive a referral fee for any people who are selected for this research through our introduction – any referral fees will be used to fund our workshops and programme development.

Out of the water A Lotus Rises.

Thank you WSC!

@ALotus_Rises #WSC

alotusrises@gmail.com

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Out of the Water A Lotus Rises #wsc

Calling ALL swimmers!

Lots happening at A Lotus Rises HQ… First up, you are invited to the inaugural Swim Nation! on 22nd June 2.30pm – 4pm at Dartington Hall in Devon. To register, email events@artdotearth.org and is free to attend.

From wild river dippers to leisure centre lane lappers, all are invited to participate in the first of a series of informal and collaborative ‘Swim Summits’ around the UK. At a time when water scarcity, sustainability, well being, access and participation in swimming are increasingly in the spotlight, we want to harness the knowledge, experience and passion of local swimmers and how we can translate that into practical change in policy and behaviour, to help promote well being and sustainability at an individual and community level.

This will be a collaborative workshop and takes place as part of the Liquidscapes conference at Dartington Hall in Devon and and involves members of the local swimming community as well as Liquidscapes delegates. Just let liquidscapes know if you would like to attend (events@artdotearth.org). More info here.

Together we will identify practical recommendations that can inform the way we live, work and enjoy the water, and how to influence the channels and change-makers we need to make them a reality.

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“Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.” Bruce Lee. Photo by Gill Williams

WHY?

We are 60% water and 71% of the earth’s surface is covered in water – it’s what connects and sustains us, yet that commonality is easily forgotten. It’s time to reconnect. Can using the framework of a hydrocentric citizenry help secure a sustainable and peaceful future?

More information about the project can be found here. Not based in/near Devon? No worries! Urban, rural, leisure centre pool, loch or lido – We can host a Swim Summit near you –  please email alotusrises@gmail.com and follow @hydrocitizen on Instagram to find out more.

Out of the water A Lotus Rises.

 

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‘My Big Bangla Swim’ We talk swim tips, drowning prevention and swimming the Bangla Channel with Swim Coach and Journalist, Becky Horsbrugh

Becky Horsbrugh is a journalist, swim coach and open water swimmer based in Hackney. Inspired by Lord Byron she took part in her first major open water swimming event in 2010, a swim across the Hellespont, made famous by the poet. Since then, she has undertaken a variety of swim and triathlon challenges, overcoming a number of personal challenges along the way and becoming an ambassador for women in sport.
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Her love of swimming has also led her to qualify as a swim teacher, and through her work as an Asia correspondent is now embarking on a swim project that brings together her passions and interests to help develop drowning prevention projects in Bangladesh.
On January 29th she will swim the 16km Bangla Channel in the Bay of Bengal, raising funds for an organisation called the CIPRB (Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh) who run the Swimsafe swim teaching programmes in the country.
Why did you start open water swimming?
Around ten years ago I decided to give a triathlons a go. I wasn’t a particularly strong or regular swimmer but liked the thought of combining three sports. I was intrigued by the open water swim events and signed up for an event at Dorney Lake. I had no clue really about open water swimming. However I found a swimming lake near to my home at the time in west London and literally just ordered a wetsuit off the internet and went along when they had open sessions.
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At that time the sport was very much in its infancy and there was little info on the web about training, and not many people doing it. So I just taught myself how to sight in the water and just practiced. Funnily enough though when the triathlon came around we had a heatwave and we were banned from wearing wetsuits as the water was so warm. I did literally throw myself in the deep end with the sport, but it certainly didn’t put me off as the following year I then signed up for the Hellespont swim.
How did the Bangla swim project come about?
I visited Bangladesh for the first time last July as I was keen to help out with the SwimSafe schemes there, helping teach children to swim. I had previously read the appalling statistics that around 50 children die every day there in the water. The trip made a massive impression on me. I fell in love with the country as well.
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Push and Glide!

On my return to the UK my first thoughts were when can I return and how can I raise awareness of the huge issue of drowning in countries like Bangladesh. Then by chance I came across a facebook page about the Bangla Channel swim when I was googling swimming and Bangladesh. I got in touch with the organisers and after a bit of research decided to go for it. 
What is the Bangla Channel swim?
Basically it is a 16 kilometre sea swim in the Bay of Bengal from Teknaf on the mainland to St Martin’s Island, which is just 8 kilometres long and is Bangladesh’s only coral island. Many Bangladeshis have done the swim, but few visitors. Just one Dutchman, and 4 Indians I believe.
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Future Bangla Channel Swimmers in training

What are your objectives for the project in the medium and long term? 
My immediate objective is to make people more aware of how big an issue drowning is in many countries, not just Bangladesh. I admit I never really thought much about it before. We are so lucky though, we swim for fun and many of us can go on luxurious swimming holidays and enter big events, and it is a hobby. However swimming is essentially a life saving skill and everyone has the right to learn how to swim. Sadly so many people do not have this chance.
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Super Swim Smiles!

Over the past year I have been in contact with amazing people who are working to improve swim skills around the world. I have visited the RNLI headquarters in Poole and talking to the people there about their work, and I have also been in touch with the people who run SwimTayka https://swimtayka.org.uk/uk/ 
They provide free swim lessons and teach water safety to  underprivileged children in several countries, using volunteer trained swim teachers. I’m hoping in the future to work with them and my ultimate goal is to work in drowning prevention full time, concentrating on Asia.
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Becky sharing her swim journey as part of the A Lotus Rises panel at Adventure Uncovered Live

How have you prepared for the swim?
The furthest I have swum in the past has been a 7 km river swim. I had no clue what to do training wise when I first decided to do the Bangla Channel. My first instinct was just to swim as much as possible! But I was wary of overtraining and getting injured. So I signed up for club sessions once a week with SwimforTri which were brilliant and such fun. I then spoke with a coach from the company who drew up a training plan for me. So basically I have been swimming 4 times a week, with a different programme for each pool visit. A mix of drills and endurance and most swims have been around 4 to 5 kmI have also done regular pilates and although I am running less than normal, have tried to run at least once a week as cross training.
The biggest difficulty has been training over the winter time as most of my swims have had to be pool based. I live in London so impossible to go sea swimming regularly and the water is simply too cold for me to do long training swims as well outdoors. We will have two days to acclimatise though when I am in Bangladesh and get used to the sea conditions. In total there should be five of us doing the swim, myself and 4 locals. 
 I’ve also been lucky enough in recent weeks to get in touch with a couple of Bangladeshis who have done the swim and it has really helped being able to talk to them about the type of conditions I might expect.
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Becky completed the 10km Marathon Swims event at the Olympic Pool in London as part of her training

What does swimming mean to you?
It is my refuge and my escape I guess. I am hard of hearing yet when swimming I forget this as I feel I can hear the sound of the water all around me (through my ear plugs!) – so it is the one time I feel like my normal self. I lost the hearing in one ear overnight around 4 years ago due to a virus. It is also the best stress relief for me after a long day at work. Swimming has also helped me so much with my confidence and self-esteem. The female swimming movement is so empowering and I think really helps us all to be proud of our bodies, especially as we get older. I will be 50 in just over a year but feel at least 20 years younger and never feel I have to hide myself away, fearful of what anyone might think. Quite unlike my younger self.
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How can people support you and follow your adventures?
I have a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Banglaswim/ and have also started a blog https://mybanglachannelswim.wordpress.com/
My fundraising link is https://www.gofundme.com/my-bangla-swim – and there is also more information here on the swim projects I am supporting
I am not certain how good my internet connection will be the couple of days leading up to the swim but will update whenever I can.
What is your favourite swim cake?
It has to be carrot cake with frosting – I could eat that all day. Yum 
[Thank you Becky – We’ll alert the International Institute for Swim Cake Studies…]
What is your favourite piece of swim kit and why?
Hmm. I think at the moment it has to be the hoodie Selkie have given me for the swim. I am one of their swim ambassadors and they have printed out some t shirts and the sweatshirt for me. Makes me feel quite important and famous!

 

 

 

 

What are your top 3 tips for people new to open water?
1.  I would say for your first time in open water either have a lesson or go with someone who is very experienced. It can feel quite daunting and some people do panic at first, this is completely normal and having someone there to allay your fears really helps. Plus it is always good if someone shows you specific skills like sighting that will make the whole experience more enjoyable.
2. If you want to wear a wetsuit that is fine – if you want to go in a teeny weeny itsy bitsy yellow polka dot bikini then that is totally great as well. Don’t feel you have to do what others do. Obviously be sensible – if it is 5 degrees and you are not used to cold water then be careful, but the most important thing is to get in the water and have a go. Whatever makes you feel most comfortable. 
3. Above all enjoy it! It doesn’t matter how far you swim or how fast. Take in your surroundings (which will be much more picturesque than the walls and ceiling of your local pool). Take your time to get used to it, there is no need to rush. Just float on your back if needs be. But learn to understand the water so you feel at one with it and it is your friend. Then you will never look back.
Thank you Becky! And best of luck with your Big Bangla Swim!
#alotusrises #wsc
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Every body is a swimming body: Sylvia Mac of Love Disfigure shares her swimming journey

Love Disfigure is an initiative born out of a need to raise awareness and support for those living with disfigurement. Founded by swimmer and swim teacher Sylvia Mac, who at the age of 48 dared to bare her scars for the first time. Sylvia’s advocacy is having a positive impact in a variety of areas, including setting up fortnightly swimming sessions for anyone with disfigurement.  Thank you Sylvia for sharing your story (and for your entry to the Women’s Adventure Expo #swimselfie competition!)

When I was 7 years old, my father subscribed myself and my sisters into the local swimming club. I was happy at first until I realised that the other children were staring at me and whispering. Before long, I was being called names such as ‘snakeskin’, ‘witch’ and ‘disgusting’.

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My elder sister managed to put a stop to it before it got worse. Because of this incident, I began to plan my route into and out of the swimming pool. When swimming began, I was the last person to leave the changing room and enter the pool. When our Coach called us out of the water, I would hide and pretend I had a stitch or cramp. I became quite popular with my Coach as the child who complained about everything. Little did he know, I was being bullied by the other swimmers, my team mates.

As my swimming improved my father entered me and my sister into League competitions and galas. I remember picking new swim costumes and they were all so revealing. I wouldn’t dare wear a costume with the big cut out hole in the back as this would only make my problems worse. I asked my mum for a big beach towel so my sister could wait at the end of a race with it ready to cover me up from everyone. My sister was my saviour as I never complained to anyone else about my problems. I remember one occasion swimming in a big competition at Crystal Palace leisure centre. At the end of my race, I couldn’t see my sister and became anxious in the water. I remember hearing the officials shouting and whistling at me to climb out of the water. I decided to ignore them and stay in the pool believing my sister would appear very soon. My sister never came until someone shouted over the speaker for me to get out of the pool. I swam under all the lanes to the other side of the pool and quickly ran to the changing room where I locked myself into a locker room. I stayed there until I heard my sister calling me. I was crying and screaming at her but she apologised as she had won her race prior to mine and was celebrating with her friends outside. 

I never won any of my races because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself so ‘pulled back’ during races. I wouldn’t dare ‘place’ in a swim competition because the thought of me being on a rostrum gave me anxiety attacks thinking about everyone staring at me.

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As I got older, I realised I wasn’t able to complete exams in school, college or university which meant I wouldn’t be able to achieve anything great in my life. I remember always attending interviews but when I arrived outside I would turn around and go back home. I always lied to my family telling them I did really well but lacking confidence and low self- esteem was always going to stop me in my tracks. I eventually went on to do office work which was never my thing and I was always shy around people worrying how long it would be before they sacked me.

I went on to work in schools with children as I always felt comfortable with them until one day I took them swimming with the teacher. When I arrived, I noticed 2 ladies working there that I use to swim with many years ago. They asked me if I wanted to come and teach swimming with them so I immediately took swim teacher courses and taught non-swimmer schoolchildren. I enjoyed my work so much that I then took on more work in the evenings teaching Adults to swim. I enjoyed teaching people to swim so much that I did extra evenings with special need children. Some years later I took another course in swim coaching and went on to work with a local swimming club teaching/coaching competitive swimmers. I worked in the club for a year until I began having problems with my back so had to give up work.

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When I was aged 3 years old, I was severely disfigured in boiling water from an accident at home. My sister was running with me through the house and we were told not to go into the bathroom as my mum had boiled saucepans of water and poured into bowls on the floor for our bath. We lived in a council flat in the East End of London and often ran out of gas and electric so my mum filled the bath for all 5 of my sisters to bathe. I almost died twice from my injuries but was lucky to pull through life support to tell my story today.

Last year July 2016 I went on holiday with my mother and son. Whilst laying around the pool sunbathing a man was videoing me and followed me back and forth. This made me extremely sad and upset that my mum decided we should go to the beach instead. We went up to our room and I put on a beautiful bikini which I would never think of wearing but was bought for me. We made our way to the beach and I could see my mum was very sad as she often stared at my burns and questioned if they hurt me. As I stared at her staring at me, I could feel her sadness so began walking down to the water’s edge. As I was walking I could feel everyone’s eyes on me and turned around to face my mum. I called out to her ‘mum, look at me’ and I began to smile and pose as if I was being photographed. I noticed her face change and she began smiling back at me. I went over to her and said, ‘mum from now on, when people photograph or video me, I will smile and pose then at least I will look great on youtube’.

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In October 2016, I released my own video on youtube and bared my scars. Aged now 49 years old, I decided I want to change my life and stop spending my days crying and hiding away so began a FB group called Love Disfigure. I raise awareness and show support for people living with a disfigurement by blogging on my website lovedisfigure.com and sharing beautiful photos of myself and my scars.

I recently released a story to BBC News called ‘my scar and me’ which was surprisingly released online BBC World News. I then went onto release an audio interview on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour which can be found on BBC IPlayer. I will continue campaigning for those affected by their appearance whether scars, burns, marks, skin condition or health conditions. There are thousands of people around the world who continue to suffer with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and PTSD and send me heartfelt messages. When I released my story, many of my friends didn’t know I was burned but only myself and my family knew. It was my choice to keep this to myself as many people continue to do every day in fear of being cast out. We need to let these people know that we are all unique and different in many ways. Do not let life pass you by as I did. I have wasted my life because I had no confidence in myself and my skin.

Today I can finally say ‘I am Beautiful, we are all Beautiful’.

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Connect with Love Disfigure on twitter, Facebook, Instagram and via their website.

A Lotus Rises is on a mission to increase visibility, access and participation of women in swimming. Our first collaborative workshop is at the Women’s Adventure Expo on 7th October.  Whether you’re returning to the pool, learning to swim or embarking on the English Channel we will be exploring all that open water has to offer with insights from across our women’s swimming collective and scientific contributions from the international institute of swim cake studies.

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