Swimming in Tor Bay waters has a very long tradition and its many shallow beaches make the bay an ideal location for swimmers. However there are a number of hazards and potential dangers that swimmers should be aware of and take necessary precautions when swimming in the sea.
One in 5.5 million participants drown each year in managed pools whereas one in 200,000 drown at inland water sites such as rivers, lakes and natural pools. This is about the same risk a pedestrian has of being killed by a vehicle. Every year, on average, some 40 people drown whilst swimming, jumping in and playing in open water. To avoid being one of these statistics please follow the advice in this guide and swim safely.
Tor Bay beaches are not patrolled or monitored by Lifeguards so make sure you swim with a buddy or let people know that you are entering the sea and when you are expected back.
It is always safest to swim in the shallow waters, parallel and close to the shore. If you do swim further out to sea always be mindful of the distance back to shore especially on a rising tide.
Although there are no strong rip tides in Tor Bay you should always be aware of whether the tide is rising or falling as it can quickly alter the distance to the shore and cut off some areas of the coastline. The wind can also be a factor with offshore wind winds making it more difficult to swim back to land and onshore winds create bigger waves. Swimming is not advised when there are strong winds from the west creating rough seas and strong under currents on the shoreline.
Tor Bay is a very popular boating location with vessels of many types using the bay throughout the year therefore being visible is very important in open water away from the shore. A brightly coloured hat is essential, and an inflatable tow float pulled behind you on a short leash gives a clear signal that there is a swimmer in the water. The tow float also has the added advantage of taking your weight if you need to rest during your swim. Vessel are permitted to navigate all waters within Tor Bay but there are speed restrictions between May and September when all vessel must keep below 5 knots when between the seasonal marks and the shore.
Swimmer must not swim close to any of the harbour entrances or within the water-ski lanes that are at Livermead and Elberry beaches.
The water temperature fluctuates throughout the year and get very cold between December and April, even in the summer swimmers should take precautions such as enter the water slowly and let your body acclimatise, getting into cooler water too quickly can result in reduced blood flow to your limbs and an automatic increase in your breathing rate. Jumping in might seem like fun but you risk cold water shock and hitting objects under the surface by not getting in gradually.
You should end your swim if you start to get cold or you feel yourself tiring, both signs that your core temperature could be dropping. Make sure you have some warm clothes waiting for you on shore as you will get colder once you exit the water as blood returns to your cooler extremities. A hot drink at the end of a swim is a great idea but avoid alcohol as this will cause you to lose heat.