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Can You Swim In The Norfolk Broads?

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Can You Swim In The Norfolk Broads?

Post by Miles »

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'Can you swim in the Norfolk Broads?' is a question that many boaters ask themselves.
In the middle of a baking hot summer, the desire to jump in the Norfolk Broads is indeed a very tempting idea. :D
On a couple of occasions, I have taken the plunge. Once at Sutton Staithe and the other time was on the River Waveney on the way to Geldeston. On both swims, the water was surprisingly warm.
However, on several occasions, I have seen people swimming and have felt rather uncomfortable about it. In fact, I felt uncomfortable about their security and well being.
One reason is from a boating safety perspective and the other is from a health perspective.
The rivers and Broads are mostly shallow waterways and this creates a situation whereby a swimmer could not dive to avoid a boat propeller. With nowhere to dive and no way of grabbing onto an approaching boat, then any swimmer is most likely to be killed or suffer a life-changing injury.
To put this into perspective, anyone familiar with Sutton Staithe will be aware of the water and electric points. In 2018 I jumped in the river at this point and was able to walk to the slipway without the water ever going above my elbows. I am 6'2" and I use this to demonstrate that there is nowhere for a swimmer to dive to safety.
On another note, it makes me wonder whether hire craft should be fitted with grab ropes on the sides of the vessels. In addition, why are they without boarding ladders? I know the big flashy hire boats have a fold-away system but the regular bathtubs most certainly don't. Probably too expensive to continuously replace. :roll:

Is Swimming Illegal?

Certainly, no indication that it is.

Is Swimming A Good Idea In The Norfolk Broads?

In my opinion and that's all it is, I would have to say it is totally bonkers.

Diving Into The Broads.

Standing on a cabin rook makes a great platform to jump in. However, having magnet fished on these waterways I can tell you there are more spikes, metal poles, jagged edges and tree stumps than you would suspect. I have pulled out scaffolding poles, a wheelbarrow and at Ranworh a long metal spike about four feet long.
I would urge anyone not to dive in or even consider jumping in.

Getting Stuck.

There is a labyrinth of tree roots, reeds and a whole manner of ways to get trapped in and under the water. Even stuck in the mud, silt and peaty earth. Just looking at what a mud weight pulls up can give you an idea of what surface you may connect with.

Can't Get Back In The Boat.

Even strong swimmers cant swim properly after a drink. I speak from experience.
If you can not get on board your boat, you most likely won't be able to stand up without the risk of getting trapped and any attempt to climb out across the reeds is mostly impossible...speaking from experience again.
That is why we have staithes, they mean 'landing place' and it basically implies that probably nowhere else is it possible to get back on and across the land.

You Can get Weil's Disease.
Also known as Leptospirosis. Humans can catch it from cattle and rat urine. Above all else, it can be fatal.

What Creatures Are In The Water?
Not to put anyone off from swimming in the Norfolk Broads any further but have you seen the size of the pike being caught in these rivers?
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And if that does not put you off, a dog otter is certainly more than capable of giving you a nip if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I can't say I know anyone who has been bitten by one but then again I don't know anyone who goes swimming with them either. :roll:
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Having said that, many do the Norfolk Broads swimming and many still will, and if you do so, be careful!

Below is some more information on the subject of swimming in the Norfolk Broads.

Weil's Disease

Broads Authority

Blue-green algae

Organisations. More Detailed Advice.

Short Term Discomfort, Long Term Gain...
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