Safety tips for festive sea swimming in Cornwall

RNLI asks people to plan ahead and be reasonable

Posted 3 hours ago
Last updated 3 hours ago

Boating safety tips are distributed to those who swim in the sea in Cornwall during the holiday season.

We are hosting a winter paddle on Perranporth Beach today (December 28) to help raise funds for Cash for Kids.

Join us in front of the Perranporth Surf Club from 11am to participate.

Anyone can get involved and it’s free, but there will also be the option to donate if you wish.

The Coast Guard and the RNLI urge those with the courage to go swimming this Christmas to plan ahead and be reasonable.

It comes after the charity teamed up with Cornish men’s swimming group Blue Balls, urging those considering taking a winter swim to know the potential risks.

Wild or cold water swimming has seen a boom in popularity, with many claiming that diving has benefits for both physical and mental health.

When the pandemic struck and pools were closed there was a further increase in participation in wild swimming with a report from Outdoor Swimmer revealing that 45% of swimmers increased how much they swam outside in 2020, as well as an increase in the number of young people participating due to the influence of social networks.

Joel Ninnes, RNLI Water Safety Officer, said: “We know more and more people are choosing to swim in the wild throughout the winter months and our coastline and inland waterways are beautiful. places to enjoy. But as with any sport or activity in and around water, there is an element of risk. It is important that people understand these risks, how to minimize them and to always consider safety as a priority above all else in order to ensure their safety and that of their families.

This month, a woman was rescued after experiencing difficulties while swimming in the sea off Little Fistral, Newquay. Newquay RNLI launched the Class D inshore lifeboat from Towan Beach and was quick to spot the woman because of her hot pink swim cap and matching colored float and was carried by the coast guard helicopter safe.

Joel continued, “Swimming outdoors can be unpredictable and conditions can change very quickly. If you are a regular swimmer it is just as important to take precautions before going in the water, as two days do not. look alike. This woman gave herself the best possible chance to be rescued using a highly visible pink tow float and swim cap, meaning the caller to 999 was able to provide accurate information about her condition. position and that emergency teams were able to locate it in the water very quickly. “

Tom Mason, co-founder of Blue Balls, a Cornish swimming group aimed specifically at men, took to cold water swimming during the winter lockdown.

Tom started sharing his swims on his social media and found people reaching out to give him a try. Tom and his fellow Blue Balls co-founder Ross Jackson-Hicks, who also run men’s mental health charity Man Down, saw the opportunity to create a place for men to try swimming in cold water in what was a female dominated space.

Tom said: “I love it for the tranquility and peace it can offer, but also for the way it brings people together and then obviously there are the health benefits and the chemicals it releases. in your brain where you get a real buzz out of it. I think it’s more of a mental challenge, and part of the buzz comes from the sense of accomplishment you get from overcoming the really cold weather. But of course there is. has risks, and since we started Blue Balls we understand the importance of emphasizing how to swim in cold water as safely as possible.

“I wouldn’t really call what we do ‘swim’, we tend to swim quickly for a few minutes and then go out and that’s enough time to feel the benefits. It’s really important that during the months. the colder you don’t stay in the water too long. I would always advise people to never jump in and take your time. If you jump in you might get a cold water shock and that’s it. that time you may be in trouble. I always acclimatise slowly allow my body to get used to the temperature and control my breathing. Entering slowly also means that you are less likely to injure yourself when jumping in a tidal basin or a quarry or even the sea, you may not be sure how deep it is or what could be submerged under the water surface.

“I would also advise you never to go in alone, part of the reason we created Blue Balls was the sense of community and to give men a space to try it out with other like-minded people, but for obvious safety reasons it is always best to go in the water with someone else, as if one of you is in trouble the other person can go and get help. -you bring appropriate clothing to keep you warm, especially after you have been in it and your body temperature has dropped.People bring hot water bottles and hot drinks and you should always bring a cell phone to which you can quickly access if needed. “

People swim in the wild in many different places and Tom’s favorite place to swim is in the tidal pools around the coast. By joining a local swim group, they’ll show you where to swim safe and where not.

Other hazards can include the terrain and accessibility around the water, water quality and pollution as well as return currents and waves. You should never swim near moving boats or in harbors, where it is often very difficult to be seen as a swimmer by other water users on the boats, which could result in serious injury.

Tom added, “My final safety tip is to always check the weather conditions and tide times. You want to be prepared and doing it before you go allows you to make an informed decision. It wasn’t that long ago that we were a party of five. Went down to Gyllyngvase beach in Falmouth which is normally a fairly safe beach, but in a strong wind you can get big, deflated waves and it goes from shallow to deep water quite quickly.

“We all went down there and the conditions were severe with very strong winds. We had made the effort to come down early in the morning and could have gone in, but we knew we would be putting ourselves in direct danger by doing this, we so decided not to do it. Listen to your instincts and don’t push beyond your limits, the water will always be there for you to enjoy another day in the right conditions. Never enter if you do not be unsure and remember you are only as strong as your weakest swimmer.

“If you follow the basic safety tips, swimming in cold water is an amazing thing to enjoy. I really like it and now if I have had a bad day or things get too tough I prefer to far meet a mate and go for a dip rather than go to the pub. “

The main RNLI safety tips for taking a winter bath are:

Don’t swim alone – always go with someone else to a familiar location and let someone know when you return

Always check the weather forecast, including tide and wave height information

When in doubt, stay outside – there is always another day to swim

Take plenty of warm clothes for before and after your swim, as well as a hot drink or hot water bottle to warm you up again when you get out of the water

Wearing a wetsuit will help increase your buoyancy and reduce the chances of cold water shock

Be seen – wear a brightly colored swim cap and consider using a tow float

Slowly acclimate to the water temperature – never jump directly into it

Stay in your depth and know your limits

If you’re in trouble, remember FLOAT to live by leaning back in the water, extending your arms and legs, and resisting the urge to struggle to control your breathing.

Carry a cell phone in a waterproof pouch

If you or someone else has problems, call 999 and ask for the Coast Guard

You can find more safety tips here.

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