Wild swimming is becoming increasingly popular. Alice Roberts presented a series of programmes on BBC Four about it. We all enjoyed it as kids. The backwater was as busy as the Costa Brava on sunny summer afternoons back in the 1970s.
But here is a cautionary tale about the potential dangers lurking along the river for the unwary wild swimmer.
A friend was recently training for a gruelling 10 mile swim along Lake Windermere to raise money for Help for Heroes. He had swum several miles up the Nene against the current when he decided to rest. Rolling onto his back he let the river take him along. He floated, suspended dreamlike in the swirling water, contemplating the sky, the passing clouds overhead and the trees – getting at one with nature you might say.
Ears submerged just beneath the surface the only sound to reach him was the gentle gurgling flow of the river. But his reveries didn’t last long. He was hit suddenly by a passerby who, thinking that our wild swimmer was drowning, had flung himself into the river to save him. The only problem was that as our swimmer surfaced after the shock of being half drowned he quickly realised that the Good Samaritan couldn’t swim and was urgently in need of rescue himself.
Dragging him to the bank and swiftly administering CPR he revived the would-be rescuer. Meanwhile, an ambulance had been called. Our hero then betook himself to the nearest hostelry for a pint to recover from the shock.