Welsh Water takes the plunge with open water swimming
Welsh Water plans to open up some of its reservoirs for controlled access to open water swimming in 2021*.
Recognising the potential that a small number of their staffed sites could offer to open water swimmers, the not-for-profit company believes that by allowing safely-managed access to water at designated reservoirs for organised activities, they can support the health and wellbeing of their customers.
Open Water Swimming is fast becoming a hugely popular activity and has enjoyed a massive resurgence during recent times. It is invigorating and proven to yield enormous health benefits – helping people to connect with nature, easing physical pain, and staving off dementia.
In response to customer demand, an Authorised Access to Water policy has been developed to mitigate against the risks associated with access to water, by ensuring that activities are tightly controlled and managed appropriately.
Welsh Water ran a controlled pilot of open water swimming at Llandegfedd Reservoir in Monmouthshire last year, with over 760 open water swimmers and 4 clubs taking part (adults and children) in 34 organised swimming sessions over the summer.
The successful pilot demonstrated that there is huge demand from customers for open water swimming and that safety can be successfully managed through the SH₂OUT accreditation process, which includes appropriate open water lifeguard training for staff.
On the back of the pilot, plans are now afoot to extend the open water swimming programme at Llandegfedd and achieve SH₂OUT accreditation for two further manned sites in 2021, working in partnership with Swim Wales and Welsh Triathlon. Once the sites have been accredited as safe open water swimming venues, Welsh Water will work with partners to develop a programme of organised and carefully controlled activities, with sessions tailored to clubs, groups and individuals who want to have a go at this hugely popular activity.
Peter Perry, CEO for Welsh Water said, “We are developing our visitor attractions as hubs for health and wellbeing and believe that by allowing access to water at designated reservoirs for organised open water activities such as open water swimming, we can support the health and wellbeing of our customer”. He added, “Outdoor space has never been more important, and we have it in abundance at Welsh Water”.
Welsh Water is part of the Water Safety Wales Forum; a group of organisations working on water safety and drowning prevention in Wales. The company reminds people that unauthorised swimming at any of their reservoirs is prohibited and is extremely dangerous. Open Water Swimming sessions are regulated under the close supervision of our fully trained team. They only take place in strictly designated areas of the reservoir away from hidden machinery during organised, pre-booked sessions.
Welsh Water owns and maintains more than 90 dams and reservoirs across Wales and Herefordshire which play a vital role in supplying our three million customers with a first-class supply of water.
*Subject to COVID-19 restrictions