Matthew Joseph died after getting into difficulties swimming in Coniston Water

Matthew Joseph died after getting into difficulties swimming in Coniston Water

Police in Cumbria are warning outdoor fans of the dangers of wild swimming.

They said sudden cold temperatures, strong currents, fatigue and over-estimating swimming ability all contribute to the risk when swimming in the region’s rivers, lakes and reservoirs.

Two people have died recently in the Lake District, in Coniston Water and Thirlmere, and Cumbria Constabulary also said people who jump from bridges risk serious or fatal injuries.

Chief Superintendent Steve Johnson said: “We are not trying to ruin anyone’s fun, and the hot weather provides the perfect opportunity to relax near some of our beautiful lakes, rivers and reservoirs.

“However, the fact remains that water can be extremely dangerous, and should be approached responsibly.

“Recent tragedies, such as those at Coniston Water and Thirlmere reservoir, highlight how quickly things can go wrong.

“I would urge anyone who is thinking of going swimming, or jumping, to assess the situation and make sure it is safe. If in doubt, don’t do it.”

Richard Warren, chair of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, said: “These are such tragic events and mountain rescue teams become involved as a result of expertise in water rescue but sadly the outcome is not always positive.

“Along with our colleagues in Cumbria police we would ask individuals and organised groups to enjoy the outdoors but be aware of the risks and take great care when involved in any water activity.”

Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service emphasised the need to be aware of the dangers when wild swimming. Deputy Chief Fire Officer Ian Cartwright said: “Cooling off by going for an outdoor swim might seem appealing but as we’ve already seen it can have tragic consequences.

“Rivers, lakes and reservoirs are full of hidden dangers and even strong, experienced swimmers can get quickly get into difficulties.

“If people are going to swim outdoors they need to be extremely cautious and be fully aware of the risks they’re taking.”

A spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “The Coastguard is responsible for coordination of search and rescue at the coast, on tidal stretches of rivers and on four Cumbrian lakes: Windermere, Derwentwater, Ullswater and Coniston Water.

“If you see someone in difficulty on any of the above lakes call 999 and ask for Coastguard. Remember that these freshwater lakes are extremely cold even during the summer.

“If you are boating on these four lakes you can also contact the Coastguard on VHF radio channel 16.”

Bilal Bhaty died while swimming in Thirlmere and Matthew Joseph met the same fate in Coniston Water this month.

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