THREE sections of the River Ouse are featured on a website that promotes safe swimming in open water.
Wildswim, run by the Outdoor Swimming Society, encourages people to recommend places in rivers and lakes to swim, and features three points on the River Ouse.
Areas of Naburn Lock, Acaster Malbis and Fulford Ings are included as appropriate places to swim in the River Ouse, despite an ongoing river safety campaign by The Press and local city and county officials to prevent people risking their lives in the city's rivers.
Jackie Roberts, whose daughter Megan died in the Ouse following a night out , said she was aware of websites which promoted open water swimming, but felt the risks must be made clear.
She said: "I do know people who swim in rivers and stay safe, but it's important to be aware of the dangers - the cold, currents, and not swimming after drinking alcohol. Rivers are very dangerous. Even strong swimmers get into difficulties in rivers such as The Ouse."
One woman recommended Fulford Ings as being "deep enough for a swim", appropriate for skinny dipping, and advised people the river at that point was "shallow enough to slide in and stand up". The recommendation, made in July 2013, was followed by one warning, urging swimmers to "be careful of the boats moving along the river".
A spokeswoman for the OSS said they encourage people to enjoy outdoor swimming safely, by "informing and educating swimmers in how to make their own risk assessments".
She said: "Conditions change outdoors - often rapidly - according to weather and season, and the capabilities of individual swimmers vary widely. The OSS Wild Swim Map - wildswim.com - shares and promotes the consideration and discussion of this sort of information and encourages all swimmers to assess risks before they swim. Furthermore there are many local groups under the OSS umbrella who introduce new swimmers to local swimming holes and who share knowledge and experience directly. "
She added: "The vast majority of water-related deaths do not involve swimmers. The National Water Safety Fatal Incident Reports, on which ROSPA base their information, count 99 deaths in rivers in the UK in 2012 - just four of these were swimmers.
"So what caused the other deaths? Twelve people were walking or running, four were angling. Others were engaged in a range of water sports or were simply found in the water having fallen in. So it’s vital to investigate individual circumstances before assuming that all people who drown are swimmers."
OSS River Safety Tips
- Swim sober. Your judgement, co-ordination and ability to regulate body temperature is impaired under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
- Check the depth and what’s in the water before you get in.
- Always check there is a safe exit point that you know you can get to easily. By their nature rivers have currents which mean you often can’t get out where you got in.
- Do not jump into cold water when you’re not acclimatised to it. The little-known culprit for many deaths is cold shock which is a physiological response involving gasping and uncontrollable rapid breathing. This occurs in sudden exposure to water at around 12 degrees C and below. It leads rapidly to drowning. It’s not under conscious control so you can’t overcome it by will-power.
- Avoid any water that looks dirty or polluted.