Thursday, July 05, 2018

Meet The Bold & Beautiful Swim Squad

The Feel For The Water blog is normally about improving your swimming directly through tips, techniques and advice from Swim Smooth. But sometimes we find out about something so uplifting in the world of swimming that we just want to share with you, and this is one of those times.

Julie Isbill is a Swim Smooth squad swimmer in Perth, Australia who started something really special over in Manly, New South Wales. It's a swimming group called Bold & Beautiful and she's here to tell you about it below.

We think Bold & Beautiful is just fantastic and we would love to see more swimming groups like this around the world. Why not get inspired by her initiative and start one yourself??!

Julie takes up the story and shares with us some of the secrets of its success:

Bold & Beautiful Swim Squad (B&B) is a free community group in Manly that I started quite accidentally when I offered to take a friend for a swim on Boxing Day, 2008. We committed to meet the following morning at 7am and there were 5 of us that first morning, as my friend had done some ringing around to rally the troops for moral support.

Since that day, in nearly 9 and a half years, over 17,000 swimmers have swum with B&B. It's common these days to see around 300 people swimming on any given morning come rain, hail or shine. Collectively B&B have never missed a morning swim since the day we started, thanks to a wonderful team of volunteers who work hard continuously to keep the group running smoothly, 365 days a year for everyone.

Watch a short 90sec video clip the Daily Telegraph put together of the B&B 6 years ago, nothing has changed except the number of swimmers:

So, what is it that makes B&B so popular, special and such an important, integral part of so many people's lives?

There are many reasons for different people I'm sure, but key to most people is the fact that it's regular, available, non-competitive and inclusive. It has obviously filled a niche within the community. It gives people a reason to get up in the morning, social contact and involves them in great exercise with fun and friendly, like-minded people, not to mention swimming in a stunning part of the world, over a no-take aquatic marine reserve. B&B quite literally encompasses people from all walks of life and everyone is equal in their cossies. Again, something which is very liberating and beautifully unique.

The fact that B&B is so welcoming and inclusive is I’m sure what makes it part of people’s weekly, if not daily ritual, which you can follow on our daily blog or daily attendance website.


Daily Attendance:

What makes it so welcoming and inclusive?

Every swimmer is welcomed by a fellow swimmer, sent an email and given a complementary pink cap courtesy of one of our sponsors, currently Manly Paradise Beachfront Motel and Apartments.

When 7am strikes, everyone enters the water together, waits at the point before collectively swimming across to Shelly Beach, where everyone waits again before the return leg, followed by a well-earned après swim coffee together.

Later in the morning there's the daily blog to look forward to reading and commenting on, which a different swimmer writes and shares photos from the morning, enabling swimmers to look for themselves or see what they missed out on. All part of the daily addiction.

It's these little points, amongst others, which make people feel that they’re part of something special, which they are.

There are a few things that I am most proud of, three of which include:

1. No matter how fast B&B has grown or how large it has become, B&B hasn't lost its fundamental ethos; that it is truly an inclusive community activity for everyone and it's not competitive. Even those who can't yet swim the distance can join in, walk along the foreshore and enjoy the après swim activities.

2. So many people work tirelessly behind the scenes as volunteers, ensuring that new swimmers today, receive the same (if not improved) personalised touch that they received when they joined, resulting in B&B being as inclusive for the new swimmers today as it has always been.

3. All the original swimmers that swam on that very first day, 27th Dec 2008, still swim with B&B regularly to this day!

The success of B&B is a credit to every swimmer within it.

The number of people participating grows every day. As of April 2018, 17,167 individual swimmers that we are aware of have swum with B&B to date.

As for the average number in summer and winter, this grows with each year too. Last summer it was common to have ~300 swimmers on any given day. As we move into winter we can expect an average attendance around 150 a day during the week with ~250 on the weekends, as you can see on our daily attendance graph, (link above).

Different seasons sees swimmers share in different challenges, from swimming a specific number of swims over winter, with or without wetsuit, to be awarded a ‘sew-on’ badge to don their B&B Hoodie, or in summer to stretch out for a few more strokes, clocking up the kilometres and swimming so further than they imagined for yet another sew-on badge. It’s truly amazing what grown adults will do for a badge.

If you have a swimming group somewhere in the world, you’re most welcome to come and swim with us one day! Also, if you’d like to capture your group’s daily attendance, with all the add on bonuses it offers, please don’t hesitate to contact me:

You are most welcome to join in the fun and set up your own swim group using our software, be it open water, pool or both, on our webpage and swim virtually around the world too.

Happy Swimming

Julie Isbill
Founder, Bold & Beautiful Swim Squad

No comments: