For the past 18 months we have been working on a proposal to gain permission for swimming at a local reservoir in Rotherham. It all started when a friend of ours told us about a lovely lake he had noticed, nestled away amongst the houses in the small village of Harthill. Intrigued we went and hunted it out for ourselves and the location looked perfect for swimming. We noticed that there was a building on the site with a sign stating that it was the premises of Rotherham Sailing Club.
Now this is where the most striking coincidence happened. I share an office at work with 4 other people out of a department of over 80 faculty members in an organisation employing over 2000 people. When sat at my desk discussing hobbies and weekend activities with colleagues I mentioned the beautiful swimming location we had found at Harthill and our intention to try and contact the sailing club. Amazingly the person who sits opposite me in our small office turned out to be a member of the committee of the sailing club and his family were founder members. And that is where it started.
We had a couple of chats with my contact at the Sailing Club and it turned out that they might be open to the idea of allowing us to swim. As the site is owned by the Canal and River Trust we needed to contact them first to get their permission. We also had to speak to the fishing club and get their agreement which I was quite apprehensive about given our past experiences with fishermen (we have found them to be less than understanding of our wish to swim in the Open Water at other locations), however they were quite nice reasonable people and we were able to discuss the matter with them and gain their blessing.
Then started a long process of convincing the Canal and River Trust that we know what we are doing! We wrote extensive risk assessments and proposals, held trial events, joined the sailing club as full members ourselves, sent documents back and forth lots of times (so many I could not possibly try to count), had telephone conversations, held meetings, recruited other swimmers to help with the admin and safety requirements, attended training events on first aid, coaching and water safety, wrote rules and policies and generally kept at it until we finally got the answer we wanted.
Late last night after getting a final draft of the document from CRT at around 6.30pm and then rushing about getting everyone together the licence was signed and witnessed. This morning it was scanned and sent to the CRT and tomorrow we will be driving to CRT to drop off the hard copy in person. All of this means that this Saturday (12th April) we can hold our first proper swimming event at Harthill and we will then be holding regular sessions around twice a week.
Its been a long hard slog but we are sure it will be worth it to see lots of members of Yorkshire Outdoor Swimmers enjoying the water (which is extremely high quality and exceeds bathing standards) for many months if not years to come.