Written on 26/08/15 by Paul Oldham

SOS - swim on safe

As open water swimming makes a big splash across the Lake District's lakes, tarns and rivers the message is to keep the tantalizing treat safe.

Open water swimmer with hat and towfloat

Not much more than common sense is needed to avoid harm and make one of the ultimate summer activities a total pleasure, according to Lake District National Park ranger leader, Steve Tatlock.

He said:

This is a fast-growing pursuit as we are ideally placed with some of the most spectacular lakes and tarns in the country. We actively support and promote open water swimming. It's a fantastic way to enjoy the warm weather, scenery and be active into the bargain.

Just a few easy tips will help swimmers avoid some of the potential pitfalls. The most important thing is not to jump into water, which can shelve steeply. Walk slowly in to help the body adjust to chilly temperatures.

Even if the top surface is warm, you quickly get down to extremely cold and possibly dangerous icy cold conditions. This 'thermocline barrier' is particularly risky when people are hot.

Steve explained it was like plunging into a bath of ice and the body could momentarily close down, making muscle movement and breathing difficult and that was when panic could set in. He added:

Swimming is a fantastic way to have a great time. We would just say keep to the shoreline, don't go out alone and ideally have some sort of safety support - a visible tow float, canoe or small boat with a white and blue Alpha flag.

Wearing a brightly coloured hat is a good idea, particularly on the busier lakes, and people should never swim after food or alcohol.

Swimmers are advised to check the water quality – which can vary significantly between lakes, tarns and rivers – on Also, key points are included on the Lake District National Park Authority's Swimming in the Lake District page, which includes lists of which lakes are best to swim in and which should be avoided.

Tagged: safety

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