Earlier this spring the parish council was given the date for another Bantham Swoosh. The date had already been set by the Outdoor Swimming Society and many of the other arrangements had also been set in place without any prior discussion with either the parish or district council. The OSS also intends to make this an annual event. It will have a huge impact on the area around the start of the event even though it is for a short period of time, so it has been necessary to have discussions with the organisers to try to alleviate this, and to make this event run as smoothly as possible at this end of the swim.
The Swoosh will take place this year on Saturday July 2nd, on the afternoon high tide, starting at approximately 4.30 pm and ending at approximately 5.30. Swimmers will enter the water off the Tidal Road by Timbers car park, and swim down the river to Bantham on the outgoing high tide. The event takes its name from the increased speed of the current at the mouth of the river experienced by the swimmers.
There will be 600 swimmers taking part in the Swoosh this year. The OSS will have to use part of Timbers car park and part of the village green to accommodate these numbers, and also to provide portable toilet facilities. It will also be bringing all the swimmers up from Bantham by coach to drop them at the start, so it’s also been necessary to negotiate a safer way to do this. The OSS has provided 2 maps which will show the arrangements they have made.
As the event this year is taking place on what might be a very busy summer weekend afternoon, and parking for the village is already so limited, the parish council has pointed out that it is unrealistic for Swoosh organisers to make use of all the parking spaces in Timbers car park. As a result this year only a small part of the outer car park will be used.
The parish council felt that it would be appropriate for the Outdoor Swimming Society to make some payment towards our own outdoor swimming pool in return for its use of our Aveton Gifford facilities.
The following is part of correspondence from the Outdoor Swimming Society which may help to explain the event.
As a result of negotiations OSS has agreed to
- Make a payment of £100 to AGPC to be regarded as a fee for use of the six parking bays in Timbers and the playing field for siting of portable toilets etc
- As a way of supporting the town and making a positive contribution to the area, OSS is donating four fundraising swim places to Aveton Gifford Community Pool. This year they will sell them and donate the proceeds to the Community Pool.
- Make a place for a cake stand or similar at Bantham Estate if an interested group would like to take advantage of the number of swimmers. The Bantham Estate would charge 15% of sales for this.
- Promote the AG Community Pool on the Swoosh event page.
- Possibly – if you would like and have scope they can accommodate – put up a stand or do something (cheering for swimmers at water in?) that will raise the profile of the pool to Swoosh swimmers and start cultivating a relationship.
And AGPC will
- Arrange for four marshals to help on the day under direction of the event organisers (from the Community Pool, as part of the usual Charity Partnership arrangements).
- Cordon off the parking spaces in Timbers as seen in the plan.
- And has also agreed to publish the following message from the event organisers;
The Outdoor Swimming Society is delighted to be partnering with Aveton Gifford Community Pool through the annual Bantham Swoosh swim event. ‘It’s a fantastic facility and we are delighted to welcome Aveton Gifford Community Pool on board as a charity partner,’ says OSS Director Kate Rew. ‘We hope that we can be part of the picture that sustains this pool for another generation of school children – and all those in the village lucky enough to have access to it over the summer.’
The Bantham Swoosh is taking place on Saturday 2nd July, with swimmers arriving in Timbers by small coach from 4.30pm, and leaving (via the river) at 5.30pm. Please do come by and cheer them in. ‘It’s a fantastic stretch of river as water lovers in the village will know,’ says Kate. ‘The combination of crystal clear water, and the swoosh at the end of the swim, makes for a world class event. It’s 6km in all, and we expect swimmers to arrive in Bantham from 6.30pm on – the swim is not competitive, and the slower they go, the bigger the swoosh as they finish.’ Local suppliers such as the Gastrobus, the Green Bus and the Sloop Inn will be welcoming swimmers in at the other end.
The OSS is a not for profit, celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this year. It has done much to change the view of swimming in this country, and through it Devon has emerged as a wild swimmers paradise – with more wild swims plotted on the free, crowd-sourced swim map in Devon than any other county. To jump in and join them, see http://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/ – sign up for a newsletter; join the Facebook or Instagram threads to find other swimmers along with thousands of places from Devon to Mongolia where you can swim outdoors, on your own, for free.
On Saturday 2 July Timbers Car Park and the head of the tidal road might be busier than normal. All swimmers are registering and parking at Bantham so there should be zero cars coming to park in Averton Gifford. Swimmers will be dropped off at the head of the Tidal Road by 9 TallyHo! coaches, and then milling on the football pitch, waiting for high tide. The first wave of 9 coaches will arrive at the head of the Tidal Road at 4.30pm, the second wave at 5.10pm. If you’d like to come along to watch the start, you’re most welcome – we hope it will be a fantastic atmosphere. If you prefer a quiet life, then it might be best to avoid Timbers between 4.30pm and 5.30pm on Saturday 2 July 2016. The beach road down to Bantham will be shut for two approximately-thirty-minute intervals while Tally Ho! coaches shuttle to Aveton Gifford, between 4 and 5.30. Organisers apologise for any inconvenience and a signed diversion route will be provided for beach traffic. ‘The event brings £87,000 into the area in swimmer spend on the weekend, together with funds directly spent on the event and repeat tourism for the South Hams,’ says Rew. ‘Big sports events like this always cause some disruption, but we work hard on the benefits and hope to have many more happy years swimming this stretch.’
The event organiser, Will Sheaff explains that events like these have wide-reaching benefits: “Aside from the money spent by swimmers on accommodation and services (estimated at £87,000), the Community Pool has partnered with the OSS to leverage the event for local good. OSS has donated four free places, which in 2016 will be sold to bring in hundreds of pounds towards the community pool. It is hoped that in future years OSS members will chose to raise sponsorship for the community pool, leveraging the benefit to Averton Gifford in to the thousands. The Outdoor Swimming Society always does it’s best to be a good neighbour to the local community, and we always do what we can to include local groups at our events. Charities like Hospiscare have raised money through the Bantham Swoosh in the past, along with Marine Conservation Society and Devon Air Ambulance Trust who both used tickets we gave to them to raise much needed funds through the larger Dart 10k swim. In Dittisham, the local village hall committee runs a cake stall for swimmers at the finish line, raising funds for their organisation, and the local football club gets involved with a barbecue, run by footballers and feeding the hungry swimmers! I would be happy to hear from other Averton Gifford Groups who would like to join the Fisherman’s Rest and the Community Pool to be involved in the Bantham Swoosh, perhaps through a refreshment stand or something similar, either at the Averton Gifford end or at the Bantham Estate where the event starts and finishes.”
Outdoor Swimming Society events are marshalled by volunteers and any surplus from the event funds the Outdoor Swimming Society’s wider work year round supporting outdoor swimming. Safety is managed by professional employed lifeguards. Kate Rew explains “If anything does go wrong, our swimmers are in the hands of someone who not only has the minimum legal qualification, but practice and use their skills frequently in their working environment and know how to respond.”
You can reach Will Sheaff, the event organiser on [email protected]. Will says: “I don’t work on the Bantham Swoosh swim full time, so it might take a few days to get back to you, but I’m more than happy to try to help whenever I can.”
OSS hopes that this will become an annual event, and suggests that in future years;
The Community Pool will have the option of working with OSS to leverage the value of the places donated to make maximum benefit and get most money from the places. This would typically involve allocating the places to the swimmers who could commit to the highest fundraising target, or who would be good advocates for the pool. The financial benefit will certainly be maximised if the community pool can work with the swimmers in the same way other charity partners do. We can promote the opportunity and direct interested swimmers to the community pool to engage with.