A wild swimming spot in Lancashire has been designated as a bathing site, the Government has confirmed ahead of summer.

This year, a record number have been designated as bathing sites in England, including one on the River Ribble at Edisford Bridge.

The Environment Agency will immediately start monitoring the water quality at 27 sites which the government proposed as new bathing sites during a consultation earlier this year.

The additional number of sites brings the total number of sites for the 2024 water bathing season, which runs between May 15 and September 30, to 451 across England.

The Environment Department (Defra) said the Government will also launch a consultation later this year on proposals to reform bathing water regulations in England.

This will include proposed change to drive improvements to water quality at bathing spots, enhance monitoring and enable more flexibility around the dates of the monitoring season.

Defra will seek public and stakeholder views on extending the definition of “bathers” to include a wider range of water users beyond swimmers – such as rowers, kayakers and paddle boarders, it said.

Last year 96% of bathing waters in England met minimum annual standards and 90% were rated as “good” or “excellent”, Defra said.

But there has been growing public anger over the state of England’s rivers and coastal waters, which suffer pollution from sewage outlets and other sources such as agricultural run-off.

The new beathing sites will be across England, including several spots on Coniston Water and one on Derwent Water, in Cumbria, river sites like the Severn at Ironbridge and Wallingford Beach on the River Thames in Oxfordshire and more.

@alishagallagher_ Our favourite lake district wild swimming locations 🧡🌿 #wildswimming #wildswimminguk #lakedistrictswimming #uklocations #coldwatertherapy #wildswimmingspots ♬ Wildflowers - Drew Holcomb

Open water swimming safety tips

The RNLI has shared some safety tips on its website for those interested in going open water swimming.

It advises that you download the RYA SafeTrx app as this will track you as you swim and contact emergency contacts if you don’t return home on time.

  • Speak to a health professional if it’s your first time open-water swimming
  • Swim with a friend or loved one
  • Tell someone who is onshore where you are going and what time you will be back
  • Swim between lifeguard flags where possible and know where you are and how to spot rip currents and how to deal with them
  • Check the weather and tide times before entering the water
  • Wear a wetsuit and brightly coloured swimming hat
  • Take a float and mobile phone in a waterproof pouch so you can contact someone if needed
  • Take warm clothes and food and drink for after your swim

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Making the announcement on what was described as the largest ever rollout of new bathing sites, water minister Robbie Moore said: “The value our bathing waters bring to local communities is incredibly valuable – providing social, physical and positive health and wellbeing benefits to people around the country – and I am pleased to have approved a further 27 new bathing water sites for this year.

“I am fully committed to seeing the quality of our coastal waters, rivers and lakes rise further for the benefit of the environment and everyone who uses them.”

Alan Lovell, Environment Agency chairman, said: “Overall bathing water quality has improved massively over the last decade due to targeted and robust regulation from the Environment Agency, and the good work carried out by partners and local groups.

“We know that improvements can take time and investment from the water industry, farmers and local communities, but where the investment is made, standards can improve.”