July ‘worst drowning year since 1994’

More people drowned in Sweden in July than in any month for twelve years. At least 46 people drowned during the month, a figure a lifeguard organization has described as "terrible".

“We need to sit down and go through the types of accident that have taken place,” said Anders Wernesten, spokesman for the Swedish Life Saving Society (SLS).

“There is no clear pattern, the figures include people of all ages. As usual, most of the drownings are of men, but we need to analyze what happened and see what we can to about it,” he said.

Last July, 26 people died. The last time over 46 people drowned in one month in Sweden was 1994, when 50 people died in Sweden’s lakes and seas.

A large number of drownings at the beginning of this year’s hot and sunny summer led the SLS to warn of an expected high number of drownings.

Wernesten said the figures were worse than expected.

“We believed that we [Swedes] were good swimmers, but we clearly are not.”

He added that he did not think publicity over this summer’s drownings would have an effect on people at risk.

“People think “this happens to other people, not me,” he said, arguing that many people, particularly men, are over-confident about what they can accomplish in open water. Someone who has once swum 2,000 metres in a warm pool thinks he has the same ability in colder, less safe environments such as the sea or lakes.

His advice to bathers was to “go easy – go very easy. Don’t swim in deep water and use a life vest. And keep an eye on children – it can happen very quickly.”