A BICESTER lifeguard and swimming teacher is urging people to refresh their knowledge on water safety for Drowning Prevention Week.

Wendy Foster, 52, says water is fun to play and swim in, but people need to remember how dangerous it can be.

ALSO READ: Bicester swimmers raise over £1k for charity with cold plunge

She said: "This is not about stopping people from enjoying water, it's about being mindful and keeping people safe. Life is precious as we've seen through Covid so we can all do our bit by learning basic water safety skills.

"You never know when you may need it for yourself or to help someone in need."

Ms Foster is a fully qualified lifeguard and says she always makes sure she has her qualification. She carries a bag with special safety equipment in when she is outdoors, in case of an emergency that she can help with.

Bicester Advertiser: Bicester lifeguard and swimming teacher Wendy Foster is reminding people to be safe near water as this week is Drowning Prevention Week.
Picture by Ed Nix

She is a freelance swimming teacher and was, up until the pandemic started, teaching a 19-year-old blind woman how to swim.

Ms Foster added: "She learnt it so quickly, so if she can do it then anybody can. It's a life skill."

The teacher, who also used to teach aqua aerobics, says although there are lots of designated safe places to swim such as outdoor swimming pools and leisure centres, there are other water places that do not have lifeguards that require people to know what is safe.

ALSO READ: Bicester swimming teacher encourages children to learn how to swim this summer

She said: "I've noticed that in Bicester and surrounding villages, developers include attractive water features to make their housing and business developments look more appealing. They legally have a life buoy ring next to them but is this enough to get the message across that water can be dangerous? The lake outside Tesco is an example.

"There are great safe places to swim indoors and outdoors including Bicester Leisure Centre, Bardwell Pool, Chesterton outdoor lake. However there are lots of ponds, lakes, streams, rivers as well as private house paddling pools and swimming pools which come with dangers without trained lifeguards."

Water testing has been carried out at 18 sites along the River Thames in Oxford in the first stage of an effort to make it clean enough for people to swim in.

It is part of the Oxford Rivers Project to investigate whether the city could host the UK’s second ever designated river bathing water.

Ms Foster likes the idea of making rivers clean to swim in, but stressed how they must be safe.

She said: "I'd hope there'd be trained lifeguards and safety messages around in different languages because you can't always assume people know English. It sounds like a good idea and I'm sure the council will look into the safety aspect."

For information on drowning prevention, go to rlss.org.uk.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For news updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on news@nqo.com or 01865 425 445.