Swim Safe by Mary Merlin and Nan Conner
Our river is beautiful – but treat it with respect –
Swimming in fresh water is different from sea swimming.
Fresh water is less buoyant, you will tire more easily.
If you are at all unsure of your swimming ability wear a life jacket when swimming in or boating on the river.
Swimming in the river is not like being in a swimming pool. There is a current, the bottom is uneven, there may not be people around if you call for help, and there is no firm edge a stroke or two away.
A sandbar slopes gently upstream, but the downstream edge is most often steep. That’s how sandbars form. Move upstream as you play, not downstream.
A sandbar may have quite deep holes in it, apart from the edges.
Test the bottom carefully each time before rushing into the water. Are there branches floating downstream? Has an unexpected deep spot formed overnight? Has some idiot thrown broken glass into the water?
NEVER dive into the water until you have tested for depth, freedom from snags and rubbish floating below the surface.
That includes diving off the bank, from a log leaning out into the water or off a boat.
A rope swing out over the water looks like fun; what will it drop you into? Find out before using it.
A likely fishing spot is not a likely swimming spot. There will be old lines and nets and fish hooks to catch you, as well as fish.
If you must have a race, race along the river, not across it. If you run out of puff, get a cramp or want to give up, the bank is not far away. It is further across the river than it looks.
Don’t swim across the river alone. Go with a group of swimmers or with someone in a boat till you are sure you can last the distance. Even then, go with at least one other person.
Don’t fight the current; swim downstream at an angle to reach the bank. If you plan to swim across, start upstream of where you want to land. If you get tired or have a cramp, don’t panic. Turn over and float on your back, the current will take you to the bank in a little while.