A WILD swimming expert has warned of the dangers of taking a lockdown dip.

Living in rural East Ayrshire means living in scenic areas with beautiful walks along river banks, reservoirs and lochs.

The prolonged warm weather has made daily exercise an absolute pleasure and it may seem tempting to take a paddle or enter the water when it’s so warm but this could prove fatal.

Katherine Self, a wild swimming organiser who worked in the coastguard and with lifeboats, said: “Inland water ways pose their own risks with fast moving water, debris and run off the from the land.

“The facts state that basically because as spring warms up, it is singlehandedly the worst time of year due to hyperthermia.

“In March and April, inland or the sea, the water is at its coldest. It’s starting to warm up, but you are still very at risk for at this time of year.”

Scottish Fire and Rescue regularly respond to emergency calls from people who have witnessed someone getting into difficulty in open water and on average 50 people drown each year.

Douglas Reid, leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: “I know that we all have so much to think about at the moment and that our daily walks in the sunshine are a time to relax, but it is essential that we protect each other by being aware of the dangers of cold and open water.

“Don’t be tempted to enter the water and if you do see someone in difficulty, shout reassurance to them and immediately call 999.”

Popular East Ayrshire swimming spots include Loch Doon, where Katherine and her swimming group, the Barassie Sea Swimmers, have organised before.

She said: “The lochs are beautiful but they can be extremely deep and extremely cold.

“They’re not clear, so you don’t know what’s down there.

“It’s completing different to swimming pools. It can be quite unnerving.

“If in doubt don’t go out.”

Ayrshire’s most senior firefighter, Ian McMeekin, local senior officer, is determined to do all he can to avoid tragedy by emphasising the dangers of entering water unprepared.

He said: “We know that people can be attracted to water when the weather is as nice as it has been recently.

“But, tragically, people often don’t realise how cold, and dangerous, water can be until it is too late.”


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