Wye woe for swimmers

Monday 19th September 2022 12:00 pm
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ORGANISERS of a fundraising swim to help support lifesavers have been forced to pull the plug on this year’s event, owing to the state of the river.

The decision to cancel the Wild Wye Swim near Symonds Yat on Sunday (September 18) follows a meeting with Natural England over low water levels and water quality concerns.

The cancellation follows the scrubbing of both the Monmouth Raft Race on September 4 and the three-day Bank Holiday Ross rowing and dragon boat regatta due to low water.

The current polluted state of the Wye, exacerbated by the lack of rain, has sparked campaigns, protests and questions in Parliament, with many highlighting intensive poultry farming upriver and sewage outflows for the problems.

A statement on Facebook by organisers of the fundraiser for the Severn Area Rescue Association, who have a base at Beachley near Chepstow, said: “Following an online meeting with Natural England we have taken the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Wild Wye Swim.

“Everyone who had entered should now have received an email; if not please PM or email us.

“As a result of the extreme weather this summer the River Wye has been at a very low level for a long period, and the water has been very warm.

“Both are significant concerns for the natural environment, with the River Wye being a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and impact on the quality of the water.

“As organisers we have maintained a dialogue with Natural England on the state of the environment, as well as with local stakeholders.

“The state of the river and its catchment, and the weather forecast available now, indicate that there is little chance that conditions on Sunday, September 18, would be suitable for the event to proceed.

“We appreciate that this news will be disappointing to many.

“We hoped that the weather would turn, and the event would look viable, but the forecast is not looking that way and we wanted to give everyone as much notice as possible.

“If you have arranged to stay in the Wye Valley, please come anyway, there is lots to see and do here, and if you are stuck for ideas we are happy to advise.

“We look forward to seeing you next year if you can make it.

On behalf of all at the Severn Area Rescue Association and SARA Trading Ltd, thank you.”

The Wild Wye Swim is an event offering 1km, 7.5km or 10km swims on the stretch between Kerne Bridge and Huntsham Bridge.

It took place last year following lockdown, when more than £2,000 was raised.

The event is normally the biggest single fundraiser for SARA.

SARA Beachley posted after the cancellation of the raft race, and the Wild wye Swim: “We’re really sad to have lost this year’s Wild Wye Swim, and the money we’d have made from it, due to the state of the River Wye.”

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