25 July 2023


In support of World Drowning Prevention Day (25 July), and as we enter the summer holidays, Anglian Water is urging people to stay safe in the water, and only swim in reservoirs and open water where it's safe and supervised by lifeguards.


This evening (25 July), Anglian Water will be illuminating Normanton Church at Rutland Water with blue lights to mark their support of the annual awareness day.


Teams from Anglian Water will also be joined by the Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service at Pitsford Water in Northamptonshire today to spread awareness about swimming in open water and what you can do to remain safe when swimming.


World Drowning Prevention Day was first established in 2021 by the United Nations General Assembly and has been endorsed by many organisations around the globe, including the World Health Organisation. The awareness day aims to highlight the dangers around swimming in open bodies of water and draw attention to the issue of drowning prevention in a bid to save more lives.


Lisa Bryan, Prevention, Safeguarding and Partnerships Manager at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “We are urging people to take care around Northamptonshire waterways and lakes, particularly now as we enter the summer months. Open water can be extremely cold and dangerous even when the outside temperature is high.


“We are working closely with partners such as Anglian Water, local authorities and the Environment Agency as well as schools and colleges to ensure water safety messaging reaches as many people as possible.”


Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue are also educating young people particularly about the pitfalls of swimming in open water when unsupervised, and hope that this will help to prevent any serious incidents occurring.


Lisa added: “Taking part in unsupervised open water swimming is not worth the risk that it can potentially cause and there are plenty of supervised open water locations in the county that are safer to use.


“If you do find yourself in trouble in the water, remember ‘float to live’. This involves tilting your head back, extending your arms and legs and slowly moving them in circles to stay afloat. If you come across someone in difficulty, call 999 and ask for the fire service, tell the person in the water about ‘float to live’ and throw them a float aid if there’s one available. We do not recommend going into the water yourself.”


Martha Meek, Director at the River Waveney Trust said: “Wild swimming is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in nature and really get to know and love your river. It must be done safely though as water can be inherently dangerous - cold water shock, becoming tangled in underwater obstacles and currents can all come as a surprise.


“Get to know your local river, don't swim under the influence, make sure you can see what's under the water, never swim alone, and consider meeting up with a local outdoor swim group - all these things can keep you safe. But don't let any of this put you off what is a really wonderful way to enjoy time in the outdoors in water.”


Open bodies of water can pose a risk to life for anyone and even the strongest of swimmers can run into difficulty and when the weather is warm, it can be tempting to jump into our reservoirs to cool off. These are very deep and can be extremely cold in places which can cause a cold shock that can take your breath away and make it harder to swim.


It is illegal to swim in Anglian Water reservoirs and watercourses unless it is a properly designated bathing area that is supervised by fully qualified lifeguards or is part of a supervised event.


Sadly, 236,000 people die from drowning every year across the world. In the UK, 47% of accidental drownings occur between May and August – which is why Anglian Water is urging visitors to its parks to make the right decisions this summer.


Water safety advice from Anglian Water's park rangers:


  • Please only swim at supervised and lifeguarded sites. Please stay out of the water outside of designated areas and times
  • Look for signs and advice about the specific dangers at the place where you’re considering to swim
  • We encourage everyone to learn basic survival, self-rescue and rescue skills
  • Make sure someone knows where you are at all times
  • Stay in the shallow areas of water as deep water will be colder
  • Please don't take any risks, like jumping off rocks or jetties. It might look fun, but it can be very dangerous, and help may be a long way away
  • Safety at our parks is important to us, so if you see anyone in our parks swimming where they shouldn't be please contact a member of our staff