New safety equipment at Crookes Valley Park has been labelled a “massive step forward” in an effort to prevent drownings in the park’s pond.
The new safety measures come after a man in his 20s tragically drowned there in July.
Local swimming enthusiasts welcome the measures, which will help less experienced swimmers stay safe.
Suzie Wheway, 40, an outdoor swim coach in the Peak District, said: “Having that rescue equipment there is a big step forward.
“They’re acknowledging that people are going in and doing something positive to try and support it.”
In the summer, many use the pond to cool down, but taking a dip without knowing how to keep safe can lead to fatal outcomes.
Mrs Wheway said: “For about 40 years we’ve been told swimming is really dangerous. As a result, everybody’s lost the basic skills and understanding of how to assess water and water safety.
“People are so scared to even talk about swimming that they don’t do any positive education on it. It’s negligence by these organisations that they’re missing the opportunity to actually prevent harm.”
Jo Tomalin, 65, a regular swimmer at Crookes Valley Park with four and a half years experience, said: “Don’t jump in, walk in slowly, get your breath before you try to swim and don’t get out your depth.”
Mrs Wheway said: “It’s a massive escape from the business of everyday life. I get complete and utter immersion in nature.
“There’s all kind of evidence of positive mental health benefits.”
Installed by South Yorkshire Fire Service, the equipment will make the park safer for all.
“It acknowledges that people swim and keeps people safe. Blanket bans don’t keep people safe but good safety information and equipment does.”
To find out how to stay safe whilst swimming outdoors click here.