Wild Swimming Scaremongering
24th Jul 2016
Last week I was saddened to read of an 11 year old boy who had died in Rotherham , tombstoning.
Tombstoning is a terrible name for what he was doing, invented by the media to discourage people from what, for many, is a perfectly natural pastime - jumping into the water. Whilst my condolences go out to the boy's family and friends I don't want to sit back and ignore what I then saw on Saturday morning.
The sun shone from early doors on Saturday. Whist getting up and planning the day's activities - which included which wild swimming spot to visit - I checked Facebook and saw this post from Ladybower Reservoir, who rather contemprarily, have their own Facebook page.
I was suspicious. I live just a few miles from Ladybower and hadn't heard of any recent incident on the reservoir, but I had read the sad news about the death in Rotherham. I find it very unpleasant reporting to post an image of a stunning looking swimming location on a lovely summer's day, and to link it to an entirely unrelated drowning in an entirely different setting and location.
What got me more was seeing the number of Shares this post had had, effectiely spreading this idea that we should keep out of the water.
Swimming should not be presented as a deadly pursuit. It is a perfectly natural thing to want to do, especially when the weather is good. I live in the Peak district which is limited in its scope of swimming spots. That is not to say that there is not potential, but many of the spots, like Ladybower, are off limits. Consider that Ladybower, as well as Redmires, Strines, and countless other reservoirs, are within a short drive of one of the UK's most populous city conurbations, The Outdoor City no less. Would it not make more sense, for the owners of these stunning natural resources, re-invest a fraction of their profits back into opening them up to the public in a safe manner? There are enough examples around the world of places where swimming is actively encouraged alongside a fair explanation of the dangers, to negate any argument of litigation. If the reservoirs are full of metal work, then identify the areas that aren’t, and mark them accordingly. I've swum in enough reservoirs - flaunting the signs - to know that they are not maelstroms of whirlpools and currents. I am sure there are locations where undertows exist, so make it clear that those areas are not safe. Don't just rule them all out, educate the population via signs that don't scream of fear.
If you'd like to know more about wild swimming, and how to swim safely check out these links: