Paragon Awards                           Presented By

Kate Rew (GBR)

Founder, Outdoor Swimming Society

2016 Paragon Award / Recreational Swimming


Kate Rew grew up in Devon, England on her family’s dairy farm but says she developed her love of swimming the wild on the River Culm. She attended the University of Oxford, and although she did not swim, she stayed close to the water in rowing. She studied Philosophy, Psychology and Physiology. Early in Rew’s career, she worked as a freelance journalist, writing about health, fitness adventure and psychology for a number of various magazines.


In 2006, Kate Rew founded the Outdoor Swimming Society (OSS) to promote and encourage outdoor swimming. The OSS aims to represent the interests of all the different kinds of outdoor swimming by providing inspiration, connection, and a community. It provides information about places to go outdoor swimming, and about events. It also provides advice about swimming safely and other aspects and helps people to connect, and share projects, websites, advice, photos, videos, stories, experience and ideas.


The OSS manifesto believes swimming enlarges and celebrates the beauty of each day; they believe in sharing the joy and adventure of swimming; believe all have a right to swim under an open sky; believe in open access to lakes and rivers and in keeping lidos open; believe clean water in our lakes and rivers is a fundamental right; they embrace the delight of cold water and its rejuvenating effects and promise to strip and dip whenever they can.


OSS started off with 300 members, and now has 27,000 on its email list, over 20,000 on its Facebook group, gets up to 10,000 page views a day on its wild swim map, and a growing Instagram thread. In 2016, OSS celebrated its 10th anniversary, and Kate was joined by four other directors to help run it.


In 2008, Rew released a book, Wild Swim, about the best places to swim outdoors, in river, lake, lido and sea, across Britain. The book became a best seller.


Kate Rew has been featured in several TV and radio documentaries, including an episode of the BBC Radio 4 programme Wilderness Journeys, The Diving Venus and three episodes of Coast on BBC TV. The news and lifestyle periodical Monocle magazine named her as one of its 20 “heroes who deserve a bigger stage worldwide”.

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