Number of swimmers aided by RNLI more than doubles

The number of swimmers who were aided by Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers jumped from 53 in the summer in 2012 to 103 in the same period in 2021. This summer also saw the highest number of lives saved by RNLI in watersport incidents for 19 years.

Based on provisional incident reports from RNLI lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland, the period from 1 June to 31 August, the number of swimmer’s lives saved rose by 40%, in comparison to 2012.

Compared to nine years ago (2012), rescues involving those participating in watersports this summer saw a 39% increase in terms of lives saved and a 22% rise in the number of people aided while taking part in watersport activities.

Watersport figures cover people who got into difficulty while bodyboarding, using inflatables, kayaking or canoeing, kitesurfing, paddleboarding, rowing, surfing, swimming, water-skiing, windsurfing and dinghy sailing.

The RNLI’s Head of Water Safety, Gareth Morrison, said: ‘This year, we saw continued restrictions on foreign travel and hence, more people flocked to the beaches to enjoy our coastlines instead of holidaying abroad.

‘But that resulted in a huge number of people getting into difficulty around our coasts, with our lifesavers facing an incredibly busy summer, as these figures show.’

The RNLI’s 238 lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland remain on call 24/7 to respond in an emergency to anyone in distress at sea.

Gareth Morrison added: ‘Over the coming months, as the temperature drops, sea conditions will also become rougher and more unpredictable. If you find yourself in trouble at the coast this winter, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.’

‘If you do find yourself in the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE by fighting your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and float until you gain control of your breathing, before deciding whether to call for help or swim to safety.’

To show your support for the RNLI, visit:

Image: RNLI/Stephen Duncombe

Stay up to date with The Dip, our free weekly outdoor swimming newsletter.

Outdoor Swimmer is the magazine for outdoor swimmers by outdoor swimmers. We write about fabulous wild swimming locations, amazing swim challenges, swim training advice and swimming gear reviews.