Open Water

While, particularly during the late 1800s, early 1900s, many rivers near centres of population became ever increasingly polluted, the sea water and lochs of Scotland remained crystal clear and those that enjoyed swimming in these environments continued without the need for pools or other facilities.

As is the way with groups of individuals who enjoy a common pastime, Clubs formed and started to encourage participation in what was more commonly known as “long distance” swimming. Some Clubs developed both “pool” and “open water” sections.

The most “famous” Club with that predominance for sea/river swimming in Scotland, based in Broughty Ferry, was/is YeABBA (The Phibbies) and on the West coast, using the Clyde Estuary, where pollution had dispersed or at least diluted, were the Clubs in the Inverclyde area and Helensburgh/Dumbarton areas.

YeAbba (Ye Amphibious Ancients Bathing Association), whilst affiliated to the SASA, organised most of the Long Distance/Open Water activities in Scotland, as Club Events, until finally the “national” aspects were taken over by the SASA and subsequently Scottish Swimming.

Until the early 2000s, participation in Open Water activities was supported by a small number of dedicated individuals, compared to the other aquatic disciplines, however in recent years, participation has grown and now involves a much broader group of ages.

Over the years since the late 1990s, participation by Scottish Teams in European Championships/ Events has been significant, with many “hauls” of medals and trophies.

It is a successful discipline of Scottish Aquatics, that on many occasions does not get the recognition in line with its success. 

Safety in their chosen environment is critical and as many support staff can be involved as swimmers, with Safety Craft, Safety Crew, Kayakers, Medical Support, Technical Officials and of course the “sandwiches and tea” support.

The various “aspects” of Open Water Swimming, in Scotland, from 1950s to date is presented to you by selection of the buttons below the photo of the “Stars of Tomorrow”: