Summer is just around the corner and many will flock to the water to have fun and seek relief from the heat.

However, Waverley Borough Council is urging people to to follow advice when swimming in nearby rivers and lakes. This type of swimming is called open water swimming. 

Open water swimming can increase the risk of gastrointestinal illnesses or stomach bugs, which may cause diarrhoea and/or vomiting, as well as respiratory, skin, ear and eye infections. 

Anyone can become unwell from swimming in any open water as there will always be micro-organisms present. The risk of becoming ill depends on various factors:

  • children and novice swimmers are more likely to swallow water accidentally
  • those with an impaired immune system are more susceptible to infection
  • those swimming in rivers and estuaries are more likely to become unwell
  • heavy rainfall can wash harmful bacteria from agricultural land, urban areas and sewage to rivers, seas and bathing waters and affect water quality

The advice follows The Herald’s report about incidents in mid-May of children getting sick after swimming in the River Wey in Frensham and Tilford. Levels of E. coli are higher in the river than what is recommended, according to test results from the Water Rangers Community Lab.

Waverley recommends using Environment Agency resources to check water quality information and pollution risk forecast in the area you will be swimming in and to always look for signs at the beach or on river banks before swimming.