News Update


Sporting sustainability: ‘Water firms must be held accountable.’

Hector Pardoe, 22, is every bit an athlete in his prime. Confident, determined, and in physical shape that most people can only dream of.

This month, he smashed the record for swimming the length of Windermere. After standing for 26 years, I smashed it by eight minutes.

But Pardoe is an Olympic marathon swimmer who hopes to compete in the Games in Paris next year. Preferably without being really unwell in the process.

“I’m not a water expert, but if the water is of poor quality, you can tell by the color.” In the UK, 30% of people get sick after going wild swimming; this is a major problem.”

Pardoe’s motivation for swimming a 17-kilometer lake without a wetsuit (since the laws prohibit swimming over 18.1 degrees) is to collect money for charity to help treat Windermere and the district’s 15 other lakes. He intends to swim the remaining 15 in the future, but “I don’t want to experience poor water quality and sewage.”

The water in Windermere did not pose any difficulties for Pardoe during his record-breaking swim, but the exertion did – he got hyperglycemic with 5km to go.

However, raising awareness about water quality is highly essential to Pardoe and many others in his community.

In the July triathlon in Sunderland, 88 racers became unwell after competing in the water.

According to a preliminary report, the bulk of the illnesses were caused by norovirus, the source of which was unknown. The water tested safe on the day of the competition, according to British Triathlon and the local water utility, and no sewage was spilled.

Pollution has also been brought up by athletes, notably windsurfer Sarah Jackson, who described sailing around England’s south coast as “surfing through sewage,” and other competitors in the Henley Regatta complained about sewage in the River Thames.

“I raced in Portugal this year in Setubal – that was on the coast,” Pardoe explained. “There were a lot of dead, washed-up fish and rats on the sand.” It can’t be good to see dead rats and fish on the beach where you’re racing – and that’s the apex of the sport.”

While this is not limited to the United Kingdom, one data from the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee is particularly shocking: In England, 14% of rivers and lakes are classified safe for swimming. It is 98% in Austria.


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