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Strictly swim safety at Stratford drown prevention day

PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 March 2015

Rookie lifeguard Nyah Hayes, 10, learns line-throwing with Mark Foster (Pic by Matt Pereira)

Rookie lifeguard Nyah Hayes, 10, learns line-throwing with Mark Foster (Pic by Matt Pereira)

Copyright 2015 Matt Pereira Photography

Mark Foster swapped championship swimming for life saving at Queen Elizabeth Park.

Mark Foster competes in the line-throwing event at Speeds 2015. (Pic by Matt Pereira)Mark Foster competes in the line-throwing event at Speeds 2015. (Pic by Matt Pereira)

The eight times world record holder and former Olympic swimmer joined a record-breaking 631 competitors on March 7 and 8 to showcase drown prevention techniques at the Royal Life Saving Society’s (RLSS UK) Speed Championships. at the London Aquatics Centre.

Savers aged between 12 and 70 joined Team GB and Northern Ireland Olympians to compete in life-like emergency situations, speed swims and line-towing races.

Mark said it was important to raise awareness of water safety in the UK.

“There are 100,000 lifeguards in the country but there are more than 400 deaths a year so clearly there are lessons to learn,” he said. “The bottom line is to be sensible but I want to create awareness about drown prevention so people know what to do if somebody gets in trouble.”

He said the response in Stratford showed people were taking his message seriously.

“It was amazing to see so many people taking part and taking it seriously,” he said. “I’ve always been aware of the dangers because my father nearly drowned when he was a boy so he made sure me and my sister learnt water safety. Now we have to make others aware.”

Elouise Greenwood, RLSS UK National Participation Manager, said the response was electric.

“The Olympic legacy lived on with the Queen Elizabeth volunteers and staff, who were outstanding throughout the event and we can’t thank them enough,” she said.

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