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‘Never swim alone’ - Swim coach shares his top water safety tips

PUBLISHED: 10:40 12 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:11 12 August 2020

Cromer beach. Larger numbers of tourists and staycations in Norfolk have contributed to record A&E attendance       PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Cromer beach. Larger numbers of tourists and staycations in Norfolk have contributed to record A&E attendance PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

Safe swimming is ‘common sense’ for most people, but each year drownings continue to occur at Norfolk’s beaches and waterways. Royal Life Saving Society tutor and North Norfolk Vikings Swimming Club coach JOHN HOLDEN offers safe swimming advice to complement the Vikings’ Swimming Opportunities For All Project.

Royal Life Saving Society Tutor and North Norfolk Vikings Swimming Club coach John Holden. Picture : ANTONY KELLYRoyal Life Saving Society Tutor and North Norfolk Vikings Swimming Club coach John Holden. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Open water can be deceptive, even on the hottest days. Solo swimming in such places is a massive risk.

You stand very little or no chance of being found let alone being rescued but the desire to ‘cool down’ is some times irresistible, but be aware that water is very cold and can take away your breath with the initial cold shock on the body.

There are under water currents, uneven depths and anything which may have been thrown in unseen under water such as glass bottles.

Therefore, swim where it is safe to swim, spot the dangers and remember that there are others dangers you cannot see.

Look for the lifeguard flag when swimming at the beach. Photo: Supplied by John HoldenLook for the lifeguard flag when swimming at the beach. Photo: Supplied by John Holden

This is why rivers, lakes and ponds are not great places to swim.

Like others, I love swimming in the sea but do not over estimate your ability and set yourself unrealistic challenges or dares.

Swim parallel to the shore and always obey the signs and flags.

Therefore, swim between the red and yellow lifeguard flags if they are present and obey all warning signs.

A red flag means absolutely no swimming.

Another concern in the past on Norfolk’s beaches has been supervising of young children which has resulted in tragedy. On average it takes only three minutes for some one to drown.

Is it a myth or fact that you should wait two hours before you go swimming after a meal?

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It’s a fact, because when you swim you are putting a ‘double demand’ on your digestive muscles and this is when stomach cramp sets in.

MORE: New programme aims to get people swim fit for summer

If you get into difficulty yourself turn on to your back and float.

Everyone can float to a better or lesser extent and by staying still you are no doubt attracting attention and resting.

If you see some one in difficulty be careful help if you can but do not over estimate your ability especially when it comes to long swim and tows.

There have been cases were multiple attempts have been made to rescue people by swimmers only resulting a double or a multiple tragedy.

In some cases the only life saving strategy is to dial 999 or 112.

Please enjoy the water this summer and with a simple common sense approach which is based on the old adage of ‘prevention is better than cure’ have a great time swimming but please:

1. Never swim alone

2. Keep out of rivers, ponds and lakes

3. Be beach safe and supervise children

4. Wait at least two hours before you swim after a meal

5. Help if you can but do not play the hero if some one is in difficulty.


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