RNLI launches to swimmers rose by 26% in 2020, new data reveals

The Royal National Lifeboat Insitution (RNLI) has released its rescue figures for 2020, which show an increase of 26% in the number of boats launched to swimmers last year. In total, 349 lives were saved by the chairty’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards – almost one life saved every single day.

During the busy summer months alone, RNLI lifeboat crews saved 140 lives – an increase of 32% on the previous year – as people flocked to the coast in the UK and Ireland. Summer 2020 saw an average of 42 lifeboat launches per day, almost double the average of 23 launches per day seen for the rest of the year.

The charity is now putting out its own Mayday call as it faces yet another busy summer. With high numbers expected to take to the water as more people choose to holiday closer to home, more funds are needed to ensure the lifesaving service is able to keep everyone safe.

RNLI National Water Safety Education Partner, Sam Johnson, said: “We all saw the images of packed beaches around the coast as restrictions lifted last summer, which meant a hugely busy season for the RNLI. Many people also chose to take up new outdoor pursuits, and calls to almost every kind of water user increased, including a significant increase to swimmers in distress.

“As another summer approaches, we know that our lifesavers face more huge challenges in keeping everyone safe, which is why we’re now the ones sending out our own Mayday call and asking for help.”

Launching on Saturday 1 May, the RNLI’s annual Mayday campaign asks people to sign up to support lifesavers around the UK and Ireland. This year, the charity will be calling on supporters to join The Mayday Mile and cover at least one mile in any way they like in order to raise vital funds.

To sign up for The Mayday Mile, or to make a donation in support of the RNLI’s lifesavers, visit

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