British triathletes preparing for the upcoming world championships in Pontevedra, Spain, have been compelled to halt open water swim training due to sewage contamination in the sea off Lancashire’s coast.
Adam Diver, joined by his teammates Richard Addison and Paul Bamber, will represent Great Britain at the World Triathlon Championship finals scheduled for September 22-24.
Diver said of the pollution: “It is horrible and it is upsetting. You can smell it as well, especially on hot days, you can smell the sewage.”
While other teams may engage in open water training, the Lancashire-based trio has been forced to use an indoor pool. This inability to train in the sea is a significant setback, particularly for Diver, who recently achieved the remarkable feat of swimming from England to the Isle of Man.
He explained: “You need to replicate what you will experience in the competition, you need to get muscle memory, you need to understand the dynamics of open water swimming. It’s a different sort of swimming so you’ve got to have a different technique, you’ve got to train differently. It is going to impact on us massively.”
The sewage pollution is not only impacting their training but also has broader implications for tourism and the entire community, as people are unable to swim in the sea.
Following his successful swim to the Isle of Man, Diver had been planning another marathon challenge by swimming the length of Lancashire’s River Wyre. He said: “We’ve had to postpone it because it is too dangerous. I’ve been advised I would be risking my health if I swam in it.”
He is also involved in organising a national protest day on October 14th to raise awareness about sewage contamination in Britain’s seas and rivers, emphasising the urgency of addressing this issue.
“There are a couple of fishermen who’ve been out and told us it looks like it is getting worse,” he said.
“I’ve just been on the app now and there are sewage alerts for the whole Lancashire coast. This is a daily occurrence now. It is getting to the point where it is just the norm now.”
The sewage problems are primarily the result of wastewater treatment plants struggling to handle heavy rainfall. When rainfall exceeds a certain threshold, water companies are permitted to discharge sewage overflow into rivers and seas.
A spokesperson for the north-west England water company United Utilities said: “Met Office figures show that this July has been the wettest on record in Lancashire.
“Over the last 30 years, we have made major investment along the Fylde coast to provide high-quality sewage treatment and to reduce the impact of storm overflows during heavy rain, bringing huge improvements to bathing waters. We plan to build on this with further investment across the north-west to meet the new requirements of the Environment Act.”
The Environment Agency has stated that it is committed to protecting and enhancing bathing waters by regulating and holding polluters accountable.
A spokesperson said: “We are absolutely clear that polluting our seas and rivers is unacceptable and we will take tough action against companies which break the rules.”
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