Winter is here and swimmers on Merseyside are still braving the open water in baltic conditions!

As swimming pools closed due to the pandemic, many people are exploring the health benefits from a cold dip in the lake.

But with the surge in new-comers, it means water casualties are on the rise.

Since the start of 2020, across Wales and the North West the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) have saved 10 lives and came to the aid of 30 swimmers.

One of the rescuers from RNLI, Richie Webster said: “Our role is to encourage people for safe use of the water.

“It is a dangerous activity, it has to be planned and thought about.

“The power of the sea you can only experience on a day when you’ve got a few waves and it was a little colder than you were expecting, you realise it’s a very lonely place.

“Things can go wrong very quickly.

“It can be five minutes between life and death.”

Earlier this year, Swim England backed the ‘RespectTheWater‘ campaign after new statistics revealed the number of drowning deaths had increased.

There were a total of 254 deaths from accidental drownings in 2020.

That is a rise of 31 compared to the figures from 2019.

Local open water swimming coach Michael Lisle, said: “Check the conditions. Ask for local advice. Don’t swim alone.”