ABTA launches Swim Safe campaign

For many holidaymakers swimming, whether it is in the sea or a hotel swimming pool, is a fundamental part of their holiday. However, around 50% of holidaymakers only swim on holiday, and this lack of swimming experience can cause problems.

A survey of 2,289 Brits carried out in May for YouGov found that almost one in five people (18%) knows someone who has got into difficulty while swimming on holiday.

Last year ABTA was made aware of 16 people drowning abroad, seven in swimming pools and nine in the sea. However, the number of UK citizens drowning abroad has been as many as 75 in a single year.

ABTA and the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), backed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), have launched a Swim Safe campaign to highlight the dangers of swimming and the importance of following safety advice.

For anyone planning to swim on holiday, whether that’s in a pool, lake, river, sea or ocean, at home or abroad, the following advice should be followed:

Before you go

  • Don’t leave your swimming until you’re on holiday, go swimming in your local pool to brush up on your swimming skills and get fitter
  • Consider having lessons to improve your swimming ability

On holiday

  • Don’t overestimate your swimming skills or fitness – incidents can happen when people think they are stronger swimmers or fitter than they actually are
  • Always supervise children when they are playing in or near water – don’t rely on lifeguards
  • Never swim alone, at night or after drinking alcohol

In the pool

  • Follow rules and local signs
  • Check where the deep and shallow ends are
  • Be aware that not all pools employ lifeguards

In the sea

  • Check warning flags and signs on the beach
  • Learn what the lifeguard flags mean
  • Beware of dangerous currents or dangers caused by tides
  • Beware of underwater hazards, reefs, rocks, and sudden changes in depth
  • Never swim where a sign says not to, such as areas for boats or jet skis or other hazards that you cannot see
  • Don’t jump or dive from rocks, piers or breakwaters
  • Swimming in open water is very different from swimming in a pool – cold water significantly reduces the distance you can swim
  • Know how and where to get assistance if you see someone in difficulty.