The dangers related to swimming in Cambridge city’s rivers have been driven home after the tragic death of a 12-year-old school boy. Andy Collings, a Netherhall School pupil, was last seen with his friends when he died in a tributary of the River Cam at Lammas Land. Punters and other swimmers in the river assisted the emergency services to search for Andy. His body was only found about seven hours later in the river.
Andy and his friends were not given permission to use the paddling pool at the park’s playground as they were deemed to be too old. It was believe that because of that, they headed to play in the river instead. Although it is not illegal to swim in that part of the river, as it is in the city’s main waterway, people are warned that if they decide to do so, it would be at their own risk.
“We got a call from police and Scuddamores’ punters were out helping the police with the search. The incident happened above King’s Mill Pond which is a designated a permissive right to swim area. We don’t weed the river up there for that reason and swimmers use it at their own risk and it may have been the case that he was caught up in weeds. It could also have been to do with a sudden current of very cold water which, especially in warm weather, can give you quite of shock and you can lose the use of your legs for a time. They could have been jumping from the bridge or simply jumping from the bank. There is the municipal playground nearby with a paddling pool but children that age are not allowed to use it. The advice is that there is an open air swimming pool in Cambridge and there are organised swimming events on the river. Our thoughts are with this boy’s family at this terrible time,” stated Pip Noon, river manager for Cam Conservators.
The rules on swimming in the River Cam are set by waterways authority. As for the stretch where Andy died at, it has been marked as a legal bathing area. However, the Conservators of the River Cam prohibit swimming in the river between the Cambridge and Bottisham Lock. For more information, you can refer here.