Plymouth Live reports: There's been an explosion of wild swimming in Plymouth, but it can become a very dangerous exercise if the proper safety precautions are not adhered to.
People new to wild swimming in Plymouth have been warned to keep safe - and out of shipping lanes in the Sound.
One of Plymouth's most experienced cold water swimmers, Pauline Barker has offered her own tips to the brave souls wanting to swim as part of what she’s described as ‘an absolute explosion’ in wild swimming.
But she knows more than anybody else the importance of keeping safe in the cold water.
"It’s brilliant to see so many people now trying wild swimming in Plymouth," she said. "It’s outdoors, it’s exciting and thrilling - but some folk are very new to the sport and not aware of the risks and rules of using the sea. Unlike other wild swimmers, Plymouth swimmers have to think about the shipping lanes, which run close to the shore
“It’s a wonderfully Plymouth thing to have to think about - frigates, submarines and ferries - where else do you get to see all these so close to shore? But that means you need to be extra careful when you swim.”
She added: “We would normally urge people to join a club until they get a bit more experienced, but it is difficult at the moment to meet with people because of Covid.”
There are two designated safe swimming areas in the Sound - Tinside beach and Firestone Bay at Devil’s Point.
She said: “We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of people swimming at Devil’s Point and they may not be aware that they could easily find themselves in the shipping lane. Do not swim past the buoys and do not stay in the water for too long - we have had a number of swimmers who have had to be rescued by other swimmers after getting into difficulties."
Deputy leader Pete Smith said: “What Pauline doesn’t know about swimming in cold water is not worth knowing, so it’s great to have her sage advice. Anyone who does this is clearly completely bonkers, but I admire them hugely. Just be careful and don’t take unnecessary risks.”
Pauline’s top tips for Plymouth’s mad wild swimmers
The currents at Firestone Bay can be wicked - if you are a newcomer to swimming in the Sound use Tinside Beach until you are more familiar with sea swimming.
Don’t swim passed the buoys which mark the swimming area at both beaches you could find yourself in the shipping lanes
Do not stay in the water too long - especially if you are new to the sport. People do not always realise the effect the cold has on their body.
Do not attempt to dive in to get the pain over and done with - you could go into shock, your mouth opens and you start to inhale seawater… Not good
Go into the water gently to slowly build up your body’s tolerance to the cold - listen to your body
Don't want to stay in too long. Set yourself a time limit before you get in and stick to it. If you feel OK and recover well then you can always up it next time
Keep a log of your time spent in the water at various temperatures and a note of how you felt afterwards - that way you can learn where your limits are.
Don't swim alone. Swim with a buddy or at least have someone watching out for you from shore. Swimming with friends is safer than swimming alone. You can watch out for each other and it's more fun.
Don't hang about chatting after your swim. Get dry, dressed and get a warm drink inside you within 10 minutes as that's when the after drop will hit and the shivers will start.
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