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Recently released figures show how many swimming accidents there were across the UK, in news that underlines the need for mass-education campaigns like the Big Splash.
According to statistics from the Water Incident Database (WAID) system, 405 people died from incidents involving water in 2009 alone. It is the first time that a report has been published using data from WAID, which was built by the National Water Safety Forum.
A significant number of incidents stemmed from open water swimming. Some 213 fatalities occurred inland, including locations such as lakes, lochs, reservoirs, ponds and rivers.
The research underlines the value of projects such as the Big Splash. A joint initiative between British Swimming and the BBC, the Big Splash aims to encourage thousands of people to visit their local pool, where they will learn to swim and improve their technique in a supervised environment. They will also be taught the basics of water safety.
Popular brands from across the BBC – including TV, radio and online – will support the campaign. It is hoped the Big Splash will play its part in lowering the number of water-related accidents for years to come.
David Sparkes, chief executive of swimming governing body the ASA, commented on the WAID figures.
"Being able to swim and swim well is so important because ultimately swimming is the only sport that can save your life," he said.
"But children also have to be aware that swimming in open water such as lakes, rivers, canals and the sea is very different from the pool."

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