It’s Drowning Prevention Week 16th-26th June and it’s really got me thinking.
I am so lucky to live by the sea side. There’s nothing I like more than walking with my dog along the promenades and clifftops of Thanet and looking out to sea. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, it really is a magical and cathartic experience. On a clear day, you can even see France.
There are so many things to be proud of in this area: award winning beaches, beautiful harbours and seafronts, surf schools and many a festival, event and water gala designed to encourage tourism and to highlight the area’s natural charms.
It really is great to see the Royal Life Saving Society UK [RLSS] initiative about beach safety and drowning prevention. You’d think, that with our proximity to the sea, a name like ‘The Isle of Thanet’ and the small detail that we were once surrounded by water, that the residents would all be brilliant swimmers. Or at least able to swim. I’m embarrassed to say that although I can swim, I certainly would not class myself as a strong swimmer and wouldn’t last long in a current. To put the seriousness of this into context,
Around 400 people needlessly drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences. [http://www.rlss.org.uk/water-safety/]
A few months ago, I took a course of intermediate swimming lessons at the Your Leisure Ramsgate Swimming Pool and I found them very helpful. My main aim was to be able to go swimming and not play at it. Rather than mess around in the water, I wanted to be one of those people who can swim length after length with good form. I’ve got one part of that down. Sort of.
I found the lessons very beneficial and it was nice to see other adults learning to swim from scratch and watching their journey. A few months on, I alternate between going swimming at Ramsgate Leisure Centre and swimming for free at Walpole Bay Tidal Pool. I love being in the sea. Admittedly you’re subject to tide times, it is much colder and it is harder but I am so grateful to have the tidal pool on our doorstep. There are groups that regularly meet and swim together, a triathlon training team multiple pages dedicated to the tidal pool and community engagement.
I celebrate small victories like swimming an extra length and really wish I’d learnt as a child. It has inspired me to get into swimming and events. I have recently signed up for a beginner’s triathlon which I would never have done before. Initiatives like the RLSS ones are so important for raising awareness and promoting training courses for water related lifesaving activities [http://rlsscourses.org.uk/] To see what events are on in your local area during the week: http://www.rlss.org.uk/water-safety/drowning-prevention-week/find-an-activity/#1490269855423-6d6122d5-1a51
I really hope to see more events like this and affordable swimming lessons in the local area so that everyone has access.