Mincey Pie Plunge Print

altSaturday morning, and some of the OTS Open Water crowd met up at Parliament Hill Lido for their Christmas dip, the 'Mincey Pie Plunge'. The weather was festive, as were the outfits. It was 4 degrees in the water and sparkly tops, antlers and Santa hats did nothing to warm us up. However, everyone jumped in, and most swam a couple of widths or more in the bright winter sun and the screams and laughter could be heard all over Hampstead.

After a long shower, warming drinks, mince pies and Christmas cake helped heat us all up and reminisce about the many open water swims of 2011.

Merry Christmas!

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 December 2011 17:09
London Orca - Water Polo for Beginners! Print

TowerBridge-smallLondon Orca, the water polo team of Out To Swim, is the UK's leading water polo club for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people and their friends, competing in the London League as well as international competitions


In the world of aquatics, water polo is seen as the most physical and demanding of sports - requiring strength, focus and a passion to win.


At London Orca, we are happy to combine competitiveness and an incomparable social life.  We are also keen to promote the diversity of our members and to develop our squad.



Following the success of its first edition, London Orca is launching a new Beginner's Programme to recruit new players in 2012.

We invite you to discover a unique sport and an exceptional team on:

Friday 13th January 2012 from 20:00-21:00 at Porchester pool.

Get in touch to book your place.


It knocked us out! Print

Update from Lizzie:  £101.65 was raised for PACE on Saturday!

Well our Xmas splash and fun was exactly that. The SKINs event ‘OTS, it's a knockout' was a real hoot and the added complexity of choosing strokes for each heat really put the cat amongst the pigeons, leading to some unexpected results. But we saw some great swims and it was fabulous to see all lanes being so competitive and racing against each other, also watching those swimmers who have come through the lessons programme getting into it all and doing so well.

But the winners of each lane were:
Lane 1 - Dougie
Lane 2 - Oscar
Lane 3 - Thiboult
Lane 4 - Thusitha

This was followed by the water polo matches, with mixed ability teams, which were great fun to watch, and well done the A team for your success.

We then descended on the New Bloomsbury Set for drinks, well done Dan for organising reasonable drinks prices!! After short speeches summarising the key successes for the club, the 2011 awards were given out to the following OTS members

1.  Male swimmer of the year - Martin B
2.  Female swimmer of the year - Lizzie B
3.  The most improved swimmer - Geovanny R and Katie
4.  Water polo player of the year - Gareth J
5.  Most improved waterpolo player - Kate S
6.  Syncro swimmer of the year - Rick S
7.  Most improved syncro swimmer - Ronan D
8.  Open water swimmer of the year - Rick S.

Well done to you all and especially Rick for doing the double! We are all looking forward to building on our success for 2012.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 December 2011 10:38
Swimtastic awards Print

altOn Saturday the ASA's Swimtastic 2011 awards were held at the Ponds Forge centre in Sheffield. Nominated for the Community Project of the Year award for the work they do for the YMCA Positive Health Scheme were two of our very own coaches, Hilary Gerlis and Martin Purcell. (Last year, another of our coaches, Vicki Carter, won the Top Teacher of the Year award.)

The nomination was as follows:

Martin Purcell and Hilary Fassnidge - YMCA Positive Health Swim Group based in London

  • Martin and Hilary volunteer each week to train people living with HIV and AIDs at the Positive Health Swim Group.
  • Many of the people they teach have suffered from a long term illness and over the past three years they have not only helped the swimmers to gain a love of swimming but they have helped them to improve their health and fitness too.
  • With the help of the swimming lessons many of the swimmers have gained in confidence, which has enabled them to get back into employment.
  • Martin and Hilary have created more than a swimming club, they provide an important meeting place for people living with HIV.

Well, the good news is that Hilary and Martin won the award and I have to say I don't think it could have gone to two more deserving people. Both of them are very modest about the considerable time and effort they put into Y-Positive (and OTS for that matter). Out to Swim is indeed privileged to have Hilary and Martin as coaches and we are also very proud of our support of Y-Positive.

Chair of OTS, Lucille Thirlby, had the following to say: "A huge well done to them both. It is great to see martin and Hilary's commitment and energy being recognised by the ASA - we are so lucky we benefit from them coach the club so regularly!".

Martin and Hilary were accompanied by a group of supports and members of Y-Positive to the awards dinner in Sheffield, held in the Ponds Forge centre. Earlier in the day, though, the group had an opportunity to swim with the stars; which was a fun hour or so in the leisure pool swimming spent with some of the top young swimmers. The big event was of course the gala dinner. There were a lot people there and the ASA did a grand job in organising the evening. The speeches were fortunately short, the food plentiful (and good) and the company excellent.

It has to be said that when Hilary and Martin were announced as the winners a particularly loud cheer was heard from their fan club.

Well done Hilary and Martin!


Here's the official press release:




altTwo volunteers from the Central YMCA Positive Health Programme have been awarded a community award by the ASA - swimming's governing body.  Hilary Gerlis Fassnidge and Martin Purcell were presented with the Kellogg's ASA Swimtastic 'Community Project of the Year Award' by Olympic diver Nick Robinson-Baker at a star-studded event in Sheffield on Saturday 5th November.

The annual event celebrates the achievements of swimmers from all ages, including teachers and coaches who drive swimming at grass roots level.

Katie Brazier, ASA Sponsorship Director said:  "this year we were overwhelmed with nominations for 'the ASA Swimtastic Community Project award 2011' so to get into the top three is an achievement in itself.  The reason the YMCA's Positive Health 'swim group' have been recognised is because of Hilary and Martin's outstanding contribution to training people living with HIV.  They have inspired so many people to use swimming - sports only true life skill - as an effective exercise."

The ASA and Kellogg's - the events sponsor - invited all the finalists for a day of fun at the Ponds Forge, Sheffield, where they were able to swim with past Olympic and Commonwealth champions and future hopes for London 2012 Olympics and Para Olympics. They included: Olympian and Commonwealth gold medallist James Goddard; Olympian and diving champion Nick Robinson-Baker; Para Olympic hopefuls James and Emma Hollis and Claire Cashmore, to name but a few.

The Positive Health Programme is a medical referral scheme that introduces HIV positive individuals to exercise in a non-clinical setting. Over the last fourteen years the programme has helped improve the quality of life of thousands of individuals, helping them to manage fluctuating conditions associated with HIV.

Sam Fraser, Positive Health coordinator said: "We are so thrilled that the ASA have recognised the hard work that Hilary and Martin put into our swim programme. One of Positive Health's main aims is to break down the barriers associated with gyms: our swim group does that and much more besides, it is one of out best attended and most sociable groups."



Last Updated on Friday, 11 November 2011 12:33
London Orca: Birmingham Outreach Print

DavidHenderson-smallHaving been part of London Orca for a couple of years now, it's been apparent that there's a fairly established order of things - we train enthusiastically, consistently lose our matches in the straight leagues that we play in, but know that when we head off for an "international" competition that we'll be able to match it with our familiar foes from Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Manchester.

It was therefore a bit surprising when Russell B returned from Birmingham Pride to report that he'd discovered a new gay water polo team.

Part of the Moseley Shoals swimming club, the Birmingham team (who we have renamed the "Bingaz Beavers" - just has a bit more zing...) are in the early stages of development. After a bit of emailing we arranged for the Beavers to come down to London in the summer for a training session with us (at the Hampstead Lido - a bit cold but a great pool). This weekend it was the return visit and we ventured beyond the M25 on our outreach mission to Bingaz.

We were joined by a strong contingent from the Manchester Sharks so it was a solid group of about 50 gays and lesbians that congregated at the Small Heath pool (in the outskirts of Bingaz) for a two hour session of basic training drills and then mixed team scrimmage. The pool was pretty shallow and the goals were child size, but everyone was in good spirits and we all had a lot of fun splashing around.

Quick change back at the Hotel (the Ibis near New Street train station - cheap but far from glamorous) and then we all met up at Angel Bar on Hurst Street, before walking over to the Custard Factory for a traditional Bingaz Balti at The Bay Leaf - no mean feat to feed 50 rowdy water polo players but they managed it pretty well!  Back to Angel Bar before wandering over to the Nightingale for a bit of tops-off dancing.

By all measures our Bingaz outreach has been an outstanding success.

Bingaz Beavers - welcome to the world of gay water polo!!


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Last Updated on Sunday, 06 November 2011 13:00
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