Sea Pool

Swim the Wight CIC is developing a proposal to create a new tidal sea pool on the Isle of Wight. Our vision is to provide a safe, sheltered, inclusive and eco-friendly sea pool that is accessible and available to all; the construction, operation and maintenance of which would be the responsibility of a dedicated charity.

We aim to create an aesthetically pleasing, fully accessible, ecologically sustainable, low maintenance, multi-functional, tidally refreshed sea pool that can be used with or without lifeguard cover or supervision throughout the year and certainly by casual users FOR FREE.   

You may ask why! Good question! We are a relatively small island surrounded by the sea which has an impact on all our lives in some way or other. For those of us who sea swim year-round on a regular basis, we understand the benefits and how it makes us feel. So why don’t more people go in and on the sea around the island? If we could develop a safe, sheltered, accessible sea pool here would they use it? To find out, between July and September (2023), working in collaboration with the Southampton University and Unlimited Island, we asked residents and visitors to the island to complete our IOW Sea Pool Survey. Thank you to the many people who responded.

The benefits of open water swimming are now being quantified. For example, according to the Swim England ‘Value of Swimming’ latest report, the social value of swimming is £2.4 billion per year. It prevents 78,500 cases of ill health including back pain (39,306 cases), clinical depression (9736), dementia (2476) and more. Swimming therefore benefits the people who swim as well as the NHS in saving, for example, £106 million on dementia care and £103 million on diabetes care.

More than 600,000 people in the UK regularly swim in open water with a growing number noticeably taking to the sea around the Isle of Wight. We believe our vision for a safe, sheltered, accessible tidal sea pool here will enable all those who are nervous of the sea because of waves and currents , who have accessibility needs or who would like to learn to swim and/or be more confident in the sea but afraid of open water to happily reap those benefits too. It would attract more people to the island and benefit a growing community looking to blue health to enhance their health and wellbeing. 

© Charlie Harris

Sea pool survey – initial summary

23 October 2023

The survey was open for just over two months from 26 July until 1 October 2023, and received 1179 responses. The survey was created by members of the Sea Pool steering group, with ethics approval from the University of Southampton, and the data will be analysed in full over the coming months.

The habits, values and benefits of sea swimming:

  • 88% of people who responded say they enjoy swimming in the sea, with 16% swimming at least once a week and 4% swimming every day!
  • Most people (84%) said they swim with friends and family, while 41% swim alone.
  • Only 13% swim with a group or club, and 1% with an instructor.
  • The three most popular benefits of sea swimming: improved mental wellbeing (reported by 74% of respondents); improved fitness (54%); and feeling like part of nature (43%)

Current barriers to sea swimming

  • The three biggest barriers to sea swimming reported by respondents are pollution (75%), safety, including risks from deep water, currents and the tide (54%) and water temperature (37%)

9% of respondents consider themselves to have a physical or mental health condition that affects their ability to access outdoor activities like going to the beach or swimming in the sea.

85% of respondents (that’s 996 people) said they would use an accessible sea pool on the Isle of Wight; 11% maybe, only 4% no.

We are working on the design and there are many examples of tidal fed sea pools all over the world. We have to be mindful of not only the aesthetics but the protected zones as well as enhancing biodiversity. We want the pool to be accessible from the land onto the beach and across the beach into the water &  envisage, as a minimum, sheltered accessible areas for changing, with benches, seating and leisure areas for those who simply wish to gaze at the sea. 

A feasibility study is currently in progress to establish the technical, ecological, environmental and business feasibility and sustainability for creating the pool at our preferred location at Yaverland. 

The responses to the IOW Sea Pool Survey are a vital part of the study and further engagement with a wide range of individuals, organisations, groups and businesses is in prospect.  Much needs to be done and further funds and goods in kind resources are currently being sought to enable the feasibility study to be completed.   

If you or anyone you know would be interested in helping us as we develop this project with your time, skill, funds and/or resources, do get in touch. We would love to hear from you. 

This will, potentially, benefit the whole island and you can get involved in bringing this remarkable project to life.

Want to get in touch?

Drop an email down below and we’ll get back to you.