An RNLI volunteer has said a fundraising event for his charity in which 25 swimmers had to be rescued from the sea should not have been held where it was.
The swimmers, who were among 53 taking part in a 3.8km swim in Margate, Kent, to raise cash for the charity, had to be picked up from the water by craft including RNLI lifeboats from Margate and Ramsgate, after facing tidal currents that made swimming difficult.
John Ray, a volunteer press officer for Ramsgate RNLI, said local lifeboat stations had not been consulted about the event, which was organised by the events company Votwo. If they had been consulted, he said, they would have recommended that it should not take place in its chosen location, which was known to be dangerous for swimming.
"We heard about this event only when we read about it in the local paper on Friday," he said. "We were amazed by the event’s poor safety support and the fact that locally we didn’t know anything about it."
A spokeswoman for the RNLI said the event’s safety cover was the responsibility of Votwo, but that the RNLI was satisfied with the company’s provisions.
"Obviously, safety is our main concern, and while we will carry out our own investigation, we were satisfied with Votwo’s safety cover," she said.
She said the RNLI’s partnership with Votwo on a number of long-distance swimming challenges was a new programme being trialled this year for the first time.
Votwo declined to comment on Ray’s remarks, but a statement on the company’s website about the event said: "Of the 53 swimmers that started the 3.8km swim, 25 were unable to complete the course after the tide changed and were retrieved by water safety craft. Six completed the whole course, with 22 retiring early. All swimmers were accounted for."