Over recent weeks we have been experiencing the iconic British Summer weather with some high temperatures with more forecast. The heat invites us to cool down and one of the ways to do this is have a refreshing swim, but unfortunately this can sometimes end in tragedy.
I have recently been contacted regarding the Mineral Products Association ‘Stay Safe’ and ‘Stay Safe Out Of Quarries’ campaign raising awareness about the dangers of swimming in quarry lakes, reservoirs and similar types of open water. They have written to all schools and relevant organisations and visited two primary schools to explain the dangers of swimming in these places. Sadly every summer we hear on the news and see in the papers stories of children, teenagers and adults, all usually good swimmers, getting into difficulty in the water and drowning. As the Stay Safe campaign makes plain, the water may look inviting and a fun way to cool down, but we do not always realize the real depth, the undercurrents or what lurks beneath the surface.
I would urge everyone to stay away from quarries and the like. Rivers are also very dangerous as the currents can be very deceptive and it is easy to get entangled in weed growing under the surface. The dangers of heading into water hit home in 2014 with the death of Kai Lambe. The nine-year-old tragically lost his life trying to save a friend who had got into difficulty in a weir near Tutbury.
We want people to swim, it is great sport but it is important to only swim where there is a lifeguard or professionally trained support to help you immediately were you to get into trouble.
We can still enjoy the water in our local swimming pools, the leisure centres in Etwall and Swadlincote both have great facilities with professionally trained lifeguards.
The happier story about swimming is Adam Peaty from Uttoxeter winning Team GB’s first Gold Medal at the Rio Olympics in the men’s 100m breaststroke. I want to congratulate him on his amazing achievement, the result of many years dedication and hard work. Peaty is a local sporting hero who, I am sure, will inspire many young people across the country to take up swimming. We in South Derbyshire, with our great local facilities, have played a part in his story as he trained in the pool at Repton School. So, a champion Olympian, trained in South Derbyshire, I am sure there will be more.
We all have a duty to raise awareness of safety campaigns as important as this and I would ask you to pass on the message to adults and children alike ‘swim but be safe’ and swim like a champion.
(This article was originally written for the Burton Mail).