James Hickman helps kids stay water safe
Olympic advice on how to be water-safe
Olympic swimmer James Hickman visits Norfolk and helps students from Great Yarmouth stay safe this summer.
Norfolk's golden coastline and miles of meandering rivers and broads can form the canvas for a beautiful, tranquil and fun day, but unless children and adults are aware of some of the dangers posed by the waters the day could lead to disaster.
According to research by the Amateur Swimming Association, a third of all accidental deaths in the UK are caused by drowning.
A fifth of those are on beaches, nearly a third are on inland waterways, and a tenth happen in the bath at home.
To help improve the safety of school children in Norfolk, about 140 pupils from nine schools in the Great Yarmouth area have been learning water safety skills which could help save themselves or the lives of others.
Lifeguards Emily Spray and Stu Thompson
As part of the Amateur Swimming Association's Get Safe For Summer campaign, former British Olympic swimmer James Hickman and former Norwich City player Jeremy Goss helped get the children to understand the importance of keeping safe.
Olympic standard advice
Hickman, who won gold for the 100m and 200m butterfly at the Athens games in 2004, said people must be aware of their ability and the water conditions before going in.
He added: "This is all about getting safe for summer particularly in the water because everyone like to go in the sea or lakes around the country, so this is the national launch for making sure people are safe in the water.
"People end up in the sea and it's taking them a bit too far, or in a river and it's flowing a bit too quick and even in a swimming pool they go in a bit too deep and so it's just being aware of your abilities."
Nikki Merrill, from the Amateur Swimming Association, said: "It only takes a second for somebody to drown.
"You only have to take your eyes off someone for a second and they're gone. This is why we target the children and hope they take the message home", she added.
Prevention the key
Emily Spray, an RNLI lifeguard who patrols the central beach, said: "Obviously that could happen, but if you're a good lifeguard, you're looking for prevention rather than action.
"But that's why we're fully trained up for everything that could happen and hopefully we'd cope with it as best we can."
Other organisations including Norfolk Fire Service and Vigilant Fire And Safety Ltd showed children to work a fire hose, while the Norfolk Lowland Search And Rescue Team explained how they find people who have gone missing.
Organisers of the campaign are hopeful that with the range of experts on hand to explain the importance of being safe around water that children will take the message on board far more than they would had they been given a lesson in a classroom.
last updated: 09/06/2008 at 11:16