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Football fan spotted swimming after lost ball in River Thames at Gravesend promenade

PUBLISHED: 11:23 16 August 2017

Gravesend promenade

Gravesend promenade

Archant

RNLI crews were called to rescue the swimmer

Lifeboat crews had to stop a person trying to swim to their lost football in the River Thames on Monday, sparking calls for the public to respect the water.

Three members of Gravesend’s RNLI crew was deployed at around 6pm on Monday after hearing that someone had entered the River Thames to swim after the ball at the town’s promenade.

According to the crew, which is stationed next to the Port of London Authority building on Royal Pier Road, the casualty was growing “very tired” when they arrived, due to a fast flowing tide.

A spokesperson from the RNLI said: “Arriving on scene the person was persuaded to come on board the lifeboat for their own welfare.

“Safety advice was given and they were landed back ashore. The lifeboat was then stood down and returned to station.

“Is a football really worth risking your life for?”

The call out was the Gravesend station’s 54th of the year so far, and throughout the summer the charity has been urging any river and seaside visitors to respect the water.

Earlier this year the lifeboat charity launched its campaign explaining how to react if a member of the public should find themselves or another person in the water.

It said: “All too often, people’s first instinct is to go into the water. As a result, too many people drown trying to save others or their pets.

“If you see someone in danger of drowning at the coast, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard straight away. Look for something that floats or that they can hold on to and throw it out to them.”

Volunteer at Gravesend station Alan Carr told us at the campaign’s launch: “The river looks very inviting when the weather’s nice, but there are many dangers including tides, submerged objects and the shock of cold water.”

Even during the summer months, the average temperature of the river is between 12C and 15C, enough to cause cold water shock, the RNLI has issued a further warning, urging anyone who finds themselves struggling in water, to relax, lie on their backs, extending their arms and legs and float while moving their hands and feet gently to stay on top of the water.

This technique is expected to prevent any casualty from swallowing or water, or tiring themselves too quickly.

The full advice is:

F - Fight your instinct to panic or swim hard

L - Lean back in the water to keep your airway clear

O - Open your body up, extend your arms and legs, pushing your stomach up

A - Actions. Gently move your hands and feet to help you float

T - Time. In 60-90 seconds, you’ll be able to control your breathing.

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