Former olympic swimmer highlights dangers of open water after River Eden death

Credit: Keri-Anne Carry Facebook

A former olympic swimmer has issued an impassioned appeal for people to be aware of the dangers of open water after a 40-year-old man died in the River Eden.

Keri-Anne Payne watched on as emergency teams tried desperately to save the man, from Workington, who had fallen from a boat into the water near Lazonby over the Easter weekend.

The fire service, mountain rescue teams, and the police searched three miles of the water before recovering a body five hours later.

Keri-Anne is a two-time 10-kilometre open water world champion, and an Olympic silver medallist. Speaking on Tuesday to ITV Border, she highlights the dangers of what is known as 'cold water shock.'

She said: "If you're not prepared for that you will absolutely your body's natural reaction is to go into panic, essentially, and that's where people start to panic and they lose their ability to think and they start scrabbling around in the water.

"That is unfortunately where a lot of people drown around the UK and it's spreading that message, really, that when you land into cold water, your body will have a shock."

Keri gives advice on what to do if you fall into cold water, she said: " Just make sure that your airways are above water and the easiest way to get out of that is to just try to relax. So take a couple of really deep breaths in, try and float on your back and it will make a massive difference."

The incident on the River Eden was one of five attended by Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service over the Easter weekend.

Group Manager Will Richardson said: "Be water aware, be water safe if you're going to into the water. If you know you're going for a paddle then have a look.

"How would you get out how fast is the water going? Are there ledges? Does the water drop away quickly?

"A lot of our lakes and tarns you know you can be ankle deep and then the next step you're completely under the water, so if you're going to go in the water make sure you prepare and you've looked at how you'd get out."