RNLI call for open water swimmers in Tenby to stay safe
Open water swimmers in Tenby are being urged to take steps to make themselves as visible as possible to boats when they take to the water.
Whilst training for local swim events gets going from April onwards, August and early September often sees a spike in the number of open water swimmers taking to the sea off Tenby North Beach in the run up to Ironman Wales, which this year takes place on 9th September.
And the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has issued a plea to swimmers to think about their safety and consider using a brightly coloured inflatable swim buoy to increase their visibility while in the sea.
The Ironman swim course, off Tenby North Beach, crosses the entrance to Tenby Harbour and the outer boat moorings, both areas of high boat traffic. During the race swimmers don’t have to worry about boat traffic, but there are concerns that people following the same course in practice in the weeks before the event are putting themselves at risk by swimming into busy boating passages.
The RNLI is working with Tenby Harbourmaster and the Tenby Aces swimmers to encourage more sea swimmers to wear tow floats.
Andrew Lowe, Tenby RNLI Community Safety Officer, said: ‘As a boat owner myself, I know how difficult it can be at the helm to see a swimmer with no visibility buoy, particularly when approaching Tenby Harbour in the evening when the sun can hamper your vision. Visiting boaters may be even less likely to looking out for swimmers in open water.
‘We would encourage as many open water swimmers in Tenby to as possible use visibility buoys to give boats the best chance of seeing you and being able to avoid you.
‘We would also urge people to think carefully about their training route and avoid the entrance to the harbour when boats will be coming in and out. We would also advise avoiding the area around the outer moorings off North Beach.
Nicola Coates, of Tenby Aces, is an experienced open water swimmer and leads regular sea swims in and around Tenby.
She said: ‘It is a requirement of anyone taking part in any of our club swims to swim with a visibility buoy and we would encourage people preparing for the Ironman and any other events in Tenby to do the same.’
Chris Salisbury, acting Tenby Harbourmaster, said: ‘My advice to any local boat owners or those visiting Tenby Harbour is that Tenby is a popular open water swimming venue – especially in the run up to major events like the Ironman Wales, so please be on the lookout as you approach the area.’
Andrew Lowe added: ‘While swim buoys are a great piece of kit for increasing visibility, they are not designed as floatation or rescue aids. So our normal advice to sea swimmers to carefully plan their route, get local advice, seek adequate training, do not swim alone, to take their ability and fitness into account, to make sure someone knows where they are and when they’re expected back all still apply.’
Swim buoys are available from Tenby Leisure Centre and are also stocked by a range of online providers.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.