Drowning message gets splash of colour thanks to street artist

London street artist EyeSaw – AKA Paul Cottie – has put drowning prevention in the picture by painting a 2m high mural in the Cotswolds. 

A mural commissioned by swimming charity SwimTayka and carrying the clear message ‘Think before you sink’, has been unveiled at Lake 32 in the Cotswolds to mark World Drowning Prevention Day

Every year worldwide, around 236,000 people drown, and drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death, accounting for seven per cent of all injury-related deaths.

“We are really happy with Paul’s artwork, which gives a clear message about water safety,” said SwimTayka founder Bryan Avery, a keen open water swimmer from Swindon. “It’s an eye-catching way to remind people that, while the water is great to swim in, they need to respect it and to take care.”

The artist Paul Cottie, whose tag is EyeSaw, is an occasional open water swimmer himself, but says he’s now been inspired to go more often.

Teaching the life skills of swimming

SwimTayka runs free swimming programmes in countries including Brazil, Peru, Jamaica and Mozambique, where learning to swim isn’t part of the local culture, yet children are at risk because they are living alongside water. It recruits volunteer swim instructors to visit the programmes, and run the swimming and drowning prevention courses.

By commissioning the mural, SwimTayka hopes to raise awareness of the importance of water safety. Next year, the charity also plans to launch free UK swimming courses.

Much of SwimTayka’s funds come through organising yearly Channel relay swims, for those who want to take on the challenge of swimming the English Channel and raise money at the same time. It is now recruiting for its relay teams for 2024.

Find out more about SwimTayka and their Channel relay swims on their website or by emailing Bryan at You can also make a donations towards the drowning prevention campaign here.

Photo: from left artist Paul ‘EyeSaw’ Cottie, Bryan Avery from SwimTayka, and Jo Pendlebury, of Lake 32.

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Jo is the Gear Editor for Outdoor Swimmer and also writes news and features for the website. A keen open water swimmer and long-distance walker, she loves seeking out lakes and lidos close to her home in the Mendip Hills, Somerset. She is the author of The Slow Traveller, editor and founder of independent magazine, Ernest, and has previously tested outdoor clothing and kit for BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC Focus and Ernest Journal.