Sea swimmer who sparked rescue emergency says he was never in danger
PUBLISHED: 08:41 20 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:05 20 August 2020
One of the swimmers who sparked an emergency response at Felixstowe seafront on Tuesday has spoken out.
Sea swimmer and Felixstowe town councillor Seamus Bennett was one of those who emergency services were looking for following a tip off from a member of the public.
Emergency services were called to the beach at 11.30am following concerns that swimmers maybe struggling by Felixstowe pier.
The search for the swimmers quickly turned into a massive rescue operation with three incident response units, two Coastguard teams, two ambulances and four police response cars at the scene.
An air ambulance was also on standby not far from the beach.
Mr Bennett and two friends were out swimming between Martello Tower and the pier on Tuesday morning, after finishing up they headed back to a beach hut and watched as the emergency services swarmed on the beach.
“We were doing a normal swim,” said Mr Bennett.
“We go swimming every day.”
What Mr Bennett and his friends didn’t realise was that the emergency response that began not long after they got out of the water was for them.
Mr Bennett believes what happened was that he and the other swimmers were spotted near the pier after they finished the swim.
They spent a few minutes treading water while the final swimmer joined them, waving as they did.
He thinks this could have been misinterpreted as the swimmers struggling, leading to an innocent member of the public calling the emergency services.
Although Mr Bennett spoke with rescuers, he said there were communication issues that may have meant he and his fellow swimmers were not identified straight away.
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“A member of the coastguard came to our beach hut,” said Mr Bennett.
“He didn’t realise it was us.”
It wasn’t until a description of the swimmer was relayed, whose brightly coloured wetsuit matched Mr Bennett’s, that rescuers were able to confirm that it was indeed the councillor they were looking for.
By that time rescuers had been looking for the missing swimmers for some two hours.
“It was really unfortunate,” said Mr Bennett.
“It felt like it was a shame to have used all those resources.”
Mr Bennett is a very experienced swimmer; he has a coaching qualification and leads the Felixstowe Swimscapes Open Water group.
He feels it is important that people are aware that open water swimming can be done safely in Felixstowe.
“Felixstowe is a good place for it,” said Mr Bennett.
“We have been doing it for years. I have swum here all my life.”
Mr Bennett advised that those wanting to try out sea swimming go out with others and perhaps speak to those with more experience.
He also said that toe floats, such as those he and his colleagues were wearing were helpful in making sure they could be seen.
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