FAIRFORD residents have expressed concern about the dangers of swimming in a lake in a former gravel pit.

Posting on the Fairford- Our Page, Our Town, Our Community page on Facebook, one person raised the question: "Is it safe to swim/play in lake 104?

"Seems to be a lot of people, not just kids but families too. I was under the impression it was dangerous to swim in quarry pits?"

The post was flooded with comments.

One person made the point that it is "dangerous because of how the pits were dug, the banks were undercut, also the weeds can wrap around legs and cause drowning. There also used to be metal sticking up, so it is dangerous in that way."

And another said that it is dangerous because "fresh water drowning happens three times quicker compared to being in the sea. Even with quickly administered CPR etc, the chance of recovery from fresh water drowning is considerably less."

But another person said they believed: "It's potentially dangerous to swim in any "open waters" but precaution and common sense will see you right."

Two other posters said that if access to the site is abused, then it will most likely be withdrawn.

They added: "I know this is a harsh comment but because of these people who keep saying it’s ok to go in there there’s going to be a tragedy, we tell people to stay out for safety reasons not to spoil fun for people."

Another remembered a couple of recent incidents: "There was a young boy got caught in there recently, caught his foot on something, someone was also pulled from the lake unconscious last year."

A former lifeguard commented: "It is never a good idea to swim in lakes without some support available... you just never know what crap is in there. There’s weed hazard, lost fishing gear, cold water shock, your mate panicking and grabbing you pushing you under with the strength of ten men to save themselves... and more, that people don’t consider...

"I would never lake swim unless there was a support boat and lifeguard. Even paddling is risky as most of the gravel pits nearby have sudden drop offs often being 12-15’ deep within 15’ of the shore.

"There’s a time and place for swimming but be aware of the risks and ask yourself, is it worth it?"

As well as the various hazards in the water, he noted that there were also health implications.

"As well as the above there is blue/green algae (highly toxic), Weil’s disease (transmitted from cattle and rat urine), and other dodgy infections available... sorry not trying or wanting to rain on anyone’s parade but if you want to swim go somewhere with supported open water swimming."

Gloucestershire Constabulary and Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service have been warning people not to attempt to swim in open water as they enjoy the warm weather.

Cotswold Inspector Simon Ellson, of Gloucestershire Constabulary, said: “Swimming in unsupervised and unknown water can be incredibly dangerous. Reservoirs, lakes and other water can look harmless enough in the hot weather but here may be many hidden daggers, including strong currents and significant undergrowth below the water.  

"The Cotswolds has many such areas but I urge people to think about where they choose to swim in the hot weather. Please only use recognised and supervised areas. If you see anyone in danger or struggling please ring 999.”  

Group Manager Donna Potts, Prevention Lead for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We know that as some of the lockdown restrictions ease, young people want to enjoy being outside in the sunshine with their friends. Sadly every year young people drown in open water because they do not realise how cold the water is just a few centimetres below the surface.

“The shock of this cold water causes sudden cramp and can affect your breathing, causing people to panic. This can impair even strong, fit swimmers. We urge you to look out for your friends, avoid swimming or jumping into the rivers, lakes or quarries in Gloucestershire. Plan how else you can cool off safely. If you or a friend fall into water, take a minute, don’t panic, float on your back and call for help.”

For further tips and advice, please visit rospa.com/leisure-safety/water/advice/children-young-people/