Sorry it’s too wet for swimming

London Fields Lido

Swimmers at the London Fields Lido have been warned that they may not be able to use to pool when it is raining.’,’

The concerns

Staff at the pool informed suggested that rain could cloud the water and make it difficult for lifeguards to see the bottom.

A spokesman said: “In exceptional circumstances the pool may be required to be closed in order to protect users’ safety. For example, exceptionally heavy rain or foggy conditions can distort the clarity of the water, restricting lifeguards’ visibility and their ability to keep swimmers safe.”

Reporting the story

The story was reported in the Daily Mail on 10 March 2009 in an article by Ryan Kisiel. The measure is described as being ‘bizarre’ with one swimmer quoted as saying “It was difficult to believe that what I was hearing was serious. The idea that it could be too wet to swim seems almost incredible, but that was what they were actually saying.” Conservative MP Patrick Mercer added his views saying “This rule is ridiculous and the ultimate example of risk avoidance. If we continue down this mad path of mindless health and safety rules it will get even worse. There’s no common sense and this is just a continuation of the growing nanny state that prevents people from doing more and more things.”

Is this Seriously Silly?

It seems that the local council have carried out a risk assessment and identified that it is important that life guards can see people in the pool if they are going to be able to rescue someone in trouble. It is difficult to see an argument against this rule, and could be perceived as a genuine concern for the health and safety of swimmers.

Should the rule be changed?

The newspaper article does not quote the rule used in this case to prevent swimmers using the pool. However, it seems that it may well be very appropriate in certain circumstances, and other weather conditions such as lightening and strong winds would seem to create similar issues.  That being the case the real issue will come down to how the rule is applied. Banning people from swimming because of a bit of drizzle would be very silly, and there will always be some degree of subjectivity.