This activity is growing in popularity in the UK but open water swimming can increase the risk of gastrointestinal infections (diarrhoea and/or vomiting) as well as respiratory, skin, ear and eye infections. Most symptoms of these illnesses will generally be mild, caused by organisms such as norovirus, giardia and cryptosporidium.
However, there is also a risk of more severe infections caused by organisms such as E. coli O157 which may cause severe gastrointestinal illness and leptospirosis, which can cause liver and kidney problems.
Open water swimming usually takes place in outdoor bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes, estuaries and oceans.
You need to make sure you are a competent swimmer and be honest with yourself on how stronger swimmer you are
Open Water swimming can increase the risk of gastrointestinal infections (diarrhoea and/or Vomiting) as well as skin, ear and eye infections. Most infections are usually mild and are caused by organisms such as Norovirus, giardia and cryptosporidium.
Please see Public Health Englands website for further details (Swim Healthy).
Many water companies have prepared information and advice on the dangers of reservoir and lake swimming the main ones include:
- Swimming in reservoirs is dangerous. These are operational sites and even the strongest swimmers can get into serious difficulties.
- Reservoirs are incredibly deep in places but very shallow in others - particularly as water levels drop over the summer, making swimming or jump extremely dangerous
- The water temperature stays low and can cause shock or hyperthermia
- The water hides other dangers such as machinery, sudden dips and drops, weeds, mud and very strong currents