Environment Planet Earth Wild River Swimming Is Gaining Popularity By Bonnie Alter Writer University of Toronto Bonnie Alter covered the sustainability and design scene for TreeHugger in London and the UK. our editorial process Bonnie Alter Updated October 11, 2018 Migrated Image Share Twitter Pinterest Email Planet Earth Outdoors Weather Conservation Wild river swimming sounds so enticing: slipping into the cool waters of a rushing river or a secret lake. But what about all the bugs and gunk and plastic bags in those quiet corners... The Hampton Court swim is the UK's largest river swim. It starts from the picturesque Tudor palace of Hampton Court and follows the river Thames downstream two and a half miles. But there are many more people doing it across the country. Over a thousand people take part in this open river swim. It's a tribute to their fortitude--the water can be cold--everyone has to wear a wet suit. Of course it is sponsored by Speedo, but still. It's also a tribute to the revitalized river. Once described as a 'fermenting sewer', the Thames is now clean enough to welcome wildlife, fish and these urban swimmers. Last year it won the esteemed International Thiess River Prize for good river management. Wild river swimming is gaining in popularity. The group, Wild Swimming, has maps and books detailing where the best places are to do it. There are seven regional groups organizing events and exchanging information. There was a 4 part t.v. programme which showed the star/swimmer jumping into underground lakes and wild rivers throughout the english countryside. And loving it. Yes, she wore a wet suit. July 10 was the Big Jump day, when people across Europe swim in the rivers on the same day, at the same hour, in all the European rivers, from the sources and the glaciers to the oceans. It is a chance for people to demonstrate their support for the environment and raise awareness of clean water quality.