Dart RNLI stand by defiant swimmer

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The volunteer crew of the Dart RNLI inshore lifeboat were gathered at their weekly meeting yesterday evening (Tuesday 16 March) when a call came in reporting that a lone swimmer was attempting to make it across the river. The D class lifeboat was launched immediately but could only stand by the man after he refused help, saying he was fine to continue his icy journey. The charity is now appealing to people not to follow suit.

The initial call to the RNLI boathouse came from RNLI helm Lloyd Turner who is one of the ferry skippers. He reported that a man wearing only his trunks was swimming across the river. Rob Clements, RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager at the Dart lifeboat station decided to launch the D class inshore lifeboat straight away.

When the volunteer crew arrived on scene the man refused help, saying he was fine. He appeared to be a strong swimmer and was crossing the river from Kingswear to Dartmouth and was about 100 metres off the shore when the lifeboat arrived. The RNLI crew stood by the man until he safely completed his swim.

Rob Clements, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager at the Dart lifeboat station, says:

'This really was a silly idea. The water is extremely cold at the moment and there was at least a knot of tide running. In such conditions you can think you are fine one minute, and be in real trouble the next. Cold can strike very quickly. What's more this man had chosen to swim across the 400 yards of river also used by the passenger ferry so he was putting himself in even more danger. A swimmer's head in the water is tiny and almost impossible to see, I've heard experts describe looking for a head in the water like looking for a coconut in mud. I'd ask people not to repeat this man's actions.'

Posted on Wed 17 Mar 2010 by Tamsin Thomas

A charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SCO37736). Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland  I  RNLI (Trading) Ltd - 01073377, RNLI (Sales) Ltd - 2202240 and RNLI (Enterprises) Ltd - 1784500 are all companies registered at West Quay Road, Poole BH15 1HZ. Images & copyright © RNLI 2008.