Play It Safe campaign: Swimming expert's top safety tips

Ella Wilkinson with the Water Safety Campaign poster, for water safety awareness. Picture: DENISE BR

This newspaper has launched the Play It Safe campaign to encourage people to enjoy the region's water spots safely and responsibly.   - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Norfolk and Waveney's beaches and waterways are popular swimming spots over the summer months, but every year all too many people find themselves getting into danger.

As part of this newspaper's Play It Safe, Be Water Aware campaign, experienced beach swimmer John Holden has shared his top tips on how to avoid trouble in the water.

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

Royal Life Saving Society Tutor and North Norfolk Vikings Swimming Club coach John Holden. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

Mr Holden, who is a Royal Life Saving Society tutor and North Norfolk Vikings Swimming Club coach, said people should avoid swimming alone in open water, and head to beaches that were lifeguarded. 

He said: "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 sometimes irresistible.


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"Be aware that water is very cold and can take away your breath with the initial cold shock on the body."

An RNLI lifeguard looking through binoculars at the beach.

People are advised to stick to lifeguarded beaches if they want to go swimming in the sea.  - Credit: RNLI Nathan Williams

Mr Holden said anyone who found themselves in difficulty in the water should turn on their back and float.

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

"If you see someone in difficulty be careful, help if you can, but do not overestimate your ability especially when it comes to long swim and tows."

Mr Holden said it was vital to supervise children in the water, and people should avoid swimming in rivers and ponds as they could be "very dangerous and unhealthy". 

He said: "It only takes an average of three minutes for someone to drown. Children who paddle alone can slip over and it only needs a small volume of water to drown in. 

The Eastern Daily Press has launched the Play It Safe campaign urging the public to be water aware.

The Play It Safe campaign is urging the public to be water aware. - Credit: Archant

"People should also obey all flags and notices."

Mr Holden added: "A red flag means absolutely no swimming - no matter how tranquil and appetising the water looks.

"If you adhere to a proper mindset this summer, you are no doubt in for a very enjoyable and safe time, both in and out of the water."

Play It Safe

The Eastern Daily Press and its sister papers, the North Norfolk News and Great Yarmouth Mercury, have launched the Play It Safe, Be Water Aware campaign to ensure visitors to Norfolk's waters stay safe.

David Powles, EDP editor, said: "Norfolk and Suffolk are blessed with some wonderful places to enjoy water, with miles and miles of stunning coastline and the beautiful Broads. 

North Norfolk lifeguards running into the sea carrying rescue boards, Cromer pier to the left.

North Norfolk lifeguards running into the sea carrying rescue boards, Cromer pier to the left. - Credit: RNLI

"However, in recent years there have been several signs that perhaps people are not fully aware of the dangers which can lay beneath and are not fully preparing themselves before going into the water. 

"In 2020 we sadly saw several tragedies both on the coast and inland and already this summer there has been one tragic death of a young man. 

"We want to spread more awareness to those looking to enjoy our waters and hope this campaign will do just that, plus encouraging shopkeepers and businesses in popular areas to display our specially designed posters." 

Our Play it Safe water safety posters can be purchased at www.norfolkstore.co.uk

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