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Right to Roam group defends swimming at Bawsey Pits after West Norfolk Council raises concern

Members of a wild swimming group have defended inviting children to an event at a pit where four people have drowned in the past decade.

West Norfolk Council and Bawsey Country Park bosses expressed serious concerns yesterday after learning that the Right to Roam group has been hosting swims at Bawsey Pits.

Bawsey Country Park has emphasised that it has very clear rules and swimming is not allowed.

The Right to Roam group has defended hosting swimming events at Bawsey Pits
The Right to Roam group has defended hosting swimming events at Bawsey Pits

However, members of the Right to Roam group say they are using the location in order to show that “swimming can be done safely” in places such as this.

This is despite the park becoming the scene of a double tragedy in 2013 when a 16-year-old boy and a local man both drowned. Further fatalities occurred in August 2020 and June 2021.

Imogen Radford, a spokesperson for the Right to Roam group, says members want to challenge the policy which “denies people the chance to swim in beautiful lakes with all the benefits that would bring for swimmers”.

She said: “The lakes at Bawsey have fewer risks for swimmers than the sea or rivers – without tides, waves, currents, and with easier points importantly for safe exit from the water – particularly important in winter when they are more likely to be cold.

“Swimmers enter the water at their own risk, and take responsibility for their own safety, and parents or carers take responsibility for that of any children in their care and that might go swimming with them – this is very well established position in law.

“Because it has been said that the lakes at Bawsey are particularly ‘dangerous’, a number of local swimmers have looked into the risks mentioned and assessed them carefully.

“A number of things mentioned such as machinery, weeds, and water freezing cold even in summer do not stand up to examination, so I compiled this list so that swimmers can have accurate information, including how they can stay safe and avoid harm from particular risks.

“In doing so we also listed a number of risks that haven’t been mentioned and should be better known, particularly swim failure or cold incapacitation – which can be easily avoided by swimming within your capability, not getting too cold, staying near to the shore and being aware.

“We believe that giving people constructive information is much more effective than swimming bans that simply do not work and do nothing to keep people safe, but in fact can even encourage risky behaviour as they alienate people and don’t encourage them to respect the water.”

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