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British Olympian warns of the dangers of jumping into reservoirs

06 June 2019


Water company tells people to heed the hidden dangers lurking below the water’s surface.


Anglian Water, in partnership with new ambassador Ben Saxton, has launched the water company’s reservoir safety campaign to warn people of the dangers of swimming in reservoirs in a bid to cool off.


Ben, who competed for Team GB at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and is part of The British Sailing Team, started his sailing career as a youngster at Anglian Water’s Grafham Water reservoir. As ambassador for the company, he is now encouraging people to stay safe at reservoirs such as Alton, Rutland, Grafham and Pitsford and any other body of open water.


He said: “I have been sailing and playing in the water since I was four years old. The open water is exciting and fun but I’m always very aware of the danger it can pose too. The depth and cold temperature mean even on sunny days you can get into trouble. Be sensible, be safe and keep an eye on your mates!”


With the summer weather growing warmer each week, many people will be searching for ways to keep cool whilst having fun in the sun. However, schools will soon be breaking up for summer and with exam results on their way, Anglian Water often sees an increase in young people celebrating their results with friends at reservoirs and watercourses across the region.


“When you’re enjoying yourself with friends, it’s hard to remember that playing in the water can be dangerous. Respect the water – have fun and not a nightmare.  You never think it could happen to you, but circumstances can change quickly if you’re not careful,” Ben added.


The advice follows a series of instances over the last few years where two young people tragically lost their lives after swimming unsupervised in rivers and reservoirs in East Anglia. Anglian Water’s David Hartley said: “Swimming in our reservoirs is illegal, unless it is in a properly designated and supervised area, like the popular beach area at Rutland Water. Swimming isn’t the only option for people wanting to enjoy the summer sun at our reservoirs; we offer watersports, cycle routes, inflatable Aqua Parks and much more so you can enjoy the weather without having to worry.”


“There are strong currents in the water and hidden machinery lies just below the surface, not to mention the mud and weeds which can trap even the strongest of swimmers. The unexpected temperatures can cause cold water shock and make it difficult for anyone,” David added.


Ben’s relationship with the region stretches back before he even first got into a boat: “I have a long family connection with the reservoir, my granddad was the first Chief Engineer at Grafham over fifty years ago and both my parents have been members of Grafham Water Sailing Club since before I was born. Grafham Water is where I began my love for sailing before going on to represent my country at the Olympic Games.”


“Being out on the water is one of the most exciting and liberating experiences you can enjoy, whether you’re sailing, boating, SUPing, kayaking or canoeing. I’m a huge fan of getting out of the house and onto the water, so why not head down to Grafham Water, or your local reservoir, and see what activities you can get involved in this summer. Play, relax, enjoy, and remember to be safe.”