Southwold Pier-to-Pub Swim: 'Wrong decision' to start

Swimmer enter the sea at Southwold More than 130 swimmers got into difficulty off the Southwold coast

Related Stories

The organiser of a charity sea swim in Suffolk in which dozens of people had to be rescued said starting the race was the "wrong decision".

More than 130 swimmers got into difficulty during Southwold's Pier-to-Pub swim on Sunday and had to be pulled to safety by the emergency services.

Two people were taken to hospital with suspected hypothermia.

Organiser Simon Edwards said the outcome could have been "a lot worse" had it not been for the coastguard.

Sunday's race began half an hour late, meaning people were caught by strong currents as the high tide moved back out.

Start Quote

Hindsight is a great thing and if I was to do the whole thing again under the same circumstances then I would have made different decisions”

End Quote Simon Edwards Organiser

Four RNLI lifeboats and a rescue helicopter were involved in the rescue effort, after initial reports that up to 90 people were missing.

Some swimmers were rescued by lifeboat while a number of people swam to the shore themselves.

Mr Edwards, of Active Outdoor Sport, told the BBC: "The first thing that went through my mind was that perhaps the decision to start the race was the wrong decision.

"We can call the event off at any stage and although we had swimmers waiting ready to start for 30 minutes, the key decision was to start the race at that time.

Southwold Lifeboat crewman Paul Barker said one of the rescued swimmers burst into tears

"Hindsight is a great thing and if I was to do the whole thing again under the same circumstances then I would have made different decisions.

"If it hadn't been for the coastguard and the RNLI taking control of the situation it could have certainly been a lot worse."

Mr Edwards also apologised to the swimmers in an online statement, adding that he would be reviewing the incident with the coastguard and RNLI.

Simon Callaghan, helmsman at Southwold Lifeboat, said: "We can carry a maximum of 23 people on board the lifeboat and we had 21 people at one time.

"We were just ferrying them as close to the beach as we could and then getting them to swim ashore where they could meet up with the emergency services.

"It was good conditions really - it wasn't a very big sea - but I think the main factor was the tide. They were swimming against possibly two and a half knots of tide which is quite draining."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Suffolk



Min. Night 15 °C


  • RihannaCloud caution

    After celebrity leaks, what can you do to safeguard your photos?

  • Cesc FabregasFair price?

    Have some football clubs overpaid for their new players?

  • Woman and hairdryerBlow back

    Would banning high-power appliances actually save energy?

  • Rack of lambFavourite feast

    Is the UK unusually fond of lamb and potatoes?

  • Members of staff at James Stevenson Flags hold a Union Jack and Saltire flag UK minus Scotland

    Does the rest of the UK care if the Scots become independent?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.