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Swimming in Rivers: Activities

Swimming safely in rivers

  • Watch the Be River Safe video section River Safety segment Swimming in Rivers.

  • Discuss the Be River Safe safety messages in the video footage. If you find five or less then you need to watch the footage again.

A safe swimming hole

  • Work in groups and discuss:- how swimming in rivers is different to swimming in a pool or swimming in the sea

    • why you need to check out the river swimming hole every time before you use it

    • what you need to check when you are checking to see if a river swimming hole is safe

    • what a safe swimming hole in a river is like- what river features would make a swimming hole unsafe

    • what skills you need to have to swim in a river swimming hole. Check your answers by viewing the fact sheet: SWIMMING IN RIVERS.

Having fun but being responsible for ourselves and others

  • Work in groups and discuss:

    • why rivers are dangerous places to swim

    • why groups need to sort out rules like ‘no swimming deeper than this’ or ‘no swimming out past me’ or ‘no pulling anyone under’

    • how teenagers and young people get into difficulty when swimming in rivers

    • how easy it is to forget safety when you are having fun in the river

    • why everyone in the water needs to act responsibly while they are having fun

    • what a buddy system is and why two mates should look out for each other.


It takes less than one minute to drown. Drowning is a silent activity.

  • Work in groups and discuss why:

    • there must be a supervisor in the river when you are swimming in a river

    • older children should not supervise younger children in rivers- supervisors need to be strong swimmers or only act as extra supervisors on the land

    • supervisors should not get involved in fun activities in the water.

Check your answers by viewing on line Be River Safe fact sheet: SUPERVISION AT SWIMMING HOLES AND NEAR RIVERS.


Planning a trip to the swimming hole

  • Prepare a plan for a group of you to go to the local swimming hole. Either your group is old enough to go without adult supervision or there are two adult supervisors going with you.

  • Sequence your planning under these headings:

    • Before we set out

    • Getting to the river 

    • At the river

    • In the water.

  • Remember to consider:

    • gear personal, group, technical and safety

    • communication

    • risk identification and management

    • supervision.

Give some reasons to support this statement:

‘Make a plan before you complete any activity in or on the river.’

Alternatively prepare an argument against the statement:

‘Swimming in the swimming hole is what we do lots of days every summer; we don’t need to do any planning.


Is it safe to do this activity here today?

Before we start any aquatic activity we need to do a final assessment to make sure it is safe to do that activity.

  • Select an activity you like to do in the river.

  • Consider what questions you would ask to make sure it is safe or the group you are with to conduct that activity on the river.•Use these headings:

    • Local conditions here today

    • Assessment of the river

    • Weather

    • Gear

    • My competence (skills, attitude and level of experience of being in or on the river)

    • Our group’s competence (skills, attitudes and level of experience of being in or on the river)

    • Things that could go wrong and how we would deal with it.

Check your responses with the fact sheet: IS IT SAFE FOR US TO DO THIS ACTIVITY HERE TODAY?

Stop and think before you enter the water

    • Read the following articles then discuss the idea that if people acted on these two safety messages there would be fewer drownings in rivers.

Be River Safe ... stop and think before you enter the water

Be River Safe ... if in doubt STAY OUT

Swimming in Rivers - Activities

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