Harnessing community input on the benefits of, and barriers to, wild swimming

We will develop an online survey both for existing wild swimming groups and prospective swimmers to understand their key requirements in terms of the content/information that is important to them. This will involve:

  • Developing a survey to test attitudes to, and knowledge of, the benefits and risks of wild swimming;
  • Analysis of results using quantitative approaches, corpus linguistics and narrative analysis;
  • Conducting semi-structured interviews with a small number of survey participants.

Developing and co-creating content

We will co-develop sample content by:

  • Establishing a defined body of contemporary works that facilitate an understanding of the therapeutic function of blue spaces;
  • Elaborating the literary registration of ‘blue inequality’ and strategies of resistance;
  • Providing an evidence base of qualitative material on the experience of blue spaces for the benefit of project stakeholders and sample content;
  • Assembling name-evidence for recreational use of watery locations in earlier periods;
  • Investigating the history of a small number of specific wild-swimming locations relevant to our survey participants through their names and relevant local-historical and landscape scholarship.
  • Developing content to illustrate different mechanisms by which swimmers can be empowered to evaluate how widespread and problematic toxic and nuisance organisms are and how to evaluate the risks of poor bathing water quality;
  • Integrating existing content on water safety.

Content evaluation and iterative development

  • Drawing on the research on narrative representation, we will develop a template for how information is best presented to achieve maximum engagement;
  • We will work with a reportage artist who will analyse the types of narratives collected through the survey and semi-structured interviews, and produce illustrations of the natural environment of wild swimming to accompany the content.

Towards sustainable partnerships and scale up/implementation of the project

  • We will map the implementation landscape, providing a route map for wider scale and spread of wild swimming as a health and wellbeing intervention. This analysis will include (but is not limited to) national public health agencies, local authority public health departments, national sports development agencies and relevant NHS bodies.
  • The development of locality-based NHS Integrated Care Systems, with a focus on getting different parts of the health and social care systems to work together, provides an opportunity to influence policy and delivery at a local level. We will produce policy briefs to assist with commissioning and promotion of wild swimming. 

Illustrations copyright Carol Adlam