Beautiful but Deadly

Unauthorised swimming in reservoirs can kill

Unauthorised swimming can be fatal.

From the surface, reservoirs look beautiful. But hidden dangers lurk beneath the surface and unauthorised swimming can be deadly.

Statistics from Water Safety Wales estimate that 45 people in Wales lose their lives to drowning each year in coastal and inland waters.

Yet every year, large numbers of people risk their lives, and indeed some have lost their lives by entering our reservoirs in unauthorised conditions. Don’t risk your life or the lives of others. Unauthorised swimming is never allowed.

Beautiful but deadly

Do you know enough about the deadly dangers lurking beneath the beautiful surface?

  • Hidden structures made of concrete or metal beneath the surface of the water can often operate without warning.
  • Freezing currents can cause even strong swimmers to find themselves in cold water shock and unable to swim.
  • There is a reduced chance of rescue in some areas due to the remote location of many reservoirs, and often with little or no mobile reception.

Did you know… one square meter of water is equivalent to one tonne of pressure? In a reservoir, even the strongest swimmers can find themselves immobilised and unable to swim.

Keeping you safe

Welsh Water rangers patrol and police our reservoirs in the interest of public safety and you’ll see more of us out and about during the summer months.

If you find yourself in trouble in the water, our rangers and emergency services may have to try and rescue you; putting their own lives in danger.

Please treat our rangers with respect and follow any safety advice they give you. We’re not here to spoil your fun – we’re here to keep you safe.

Reuben’s story

“Reuben has been gone now for as long as he was alive.”

These are the words of Maxine, the mother of Reuben Morgan who lost his life at Pontsticill reservoir in 2006 after experiencing cold water shock. 2021 marks fifteen years since Reuben’s tragic death and his family remain heartbroken to this day. Maxine has worked closely with us over the last fifteen years, helping us raise awareness of the dangers and try to prevent this happening again.

Reuben had been camping with friends when five of them decided to swim across the reservoir to cool down. Reuben's friends made it across but after disappearing under the water three times, Reuben did not resurface. It took divers three days to find his body.

The impact of tragic stories like Reuben’s are huge. Family, friends, and emergency services must all live with the consequences.

One life lost is one too many.

Find a safe place to swim.

We know that enjoying the water safely can provide immense benefits for mental and physical wellbeing. We’re working hard to provide ways for people to reconnect with water safely. In partnership with Swim Wales, a small number of our visitor attraction sites are starting to offer safe, supervised, and accredited open water swimming sessions.

An incredible amount of work has gone into ensuring these sessions are supervised and safe and we’ve positioned clear signage at our sites to remind visitors that unauthorised swimming is strictly prohibited. It is essential people understand that unauthorised access to the water is highly dangerous and can be fatal.