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Death in the Lake District provokes warning for swimmers

Posted in: Public Liability 

After the recent death of 21-year-old Matthew Joseph, a warning has been issued regarding the dangers of open-water swimming. Cumbria’s Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) pleads that swimmers avoid swimming in reservoirs, rivers and lakes.

Matthew Oliver Joseph was airlifted to hospital earlier in the month after getting into difficulties swimming in the Lake District. Originally from Romford, London, he was rescued from Coniston Water after he was seen “in distress” when swimming with his friends. Friends tried to rescue him but were unable to get him out of the water. Mr. Joseph was then pulled from the water by a rescue boat and airlifted to the Royal Preston Hospital. He later died in hospital.

Triggered by this unnecessary death has been a warning from CFRS regarding the dangers of open water swimming – rivers can have uneven depths and can often have sudden decreases in temperature. They warn that even very strong swimmers can have problems swimming in such conditions.

Ian Cartwright, Cumbria’s deputy chief fire officer, said: “Cooling off by going for an outdoor swim might seem appealing but as we’ve already seen it can have tragic consequences.

The service issued advice following the incident: warning that all swimming should be supervised – children especially – and that swimming after alcohol consumption is especially dangerous.

Lake District National Park ranger, Sara Spicer, describes one of the hidden dangers of open-water swimming: “It’s like plunging into a bath of ice and the body can momentarily close down, you can’t move muscles, or breathe, and that’s when panic can set in.

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