Warning over open-water swimming after the death of 16-year-old Alfie

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Emergency services have issued a timely reminder of the dangers of open-water swimming following the death of teenager Alfie McCraw in Wakefield yesterday.

West Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Yorkshire Ambulance Service were called to the Aire and Calder Navigation near Southern Washlands yesterday afternoon to a report of a male teenager in the water. Following a search of the water, a body was recovered.

He has been named as 16-year-old Alfie, who is from Wakefield.

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Superintendent Nick Smart, of Wakefield District, said: “This was an extremely tragic incident which has resulted in the loss of the life of a boy who had just finished his GCSEs. We have specially trained officers who are supporting Alfie’s family at this unimaginably awful time.

Alfie McCraw died yesterday.Alfie McCraw died yesterday.
Alfie McCraw died yesterday.

“We are working with the Canal & River Trust to deliver some inputs into schools before they break up for the holidays to warn of the dangers of open water swimming, but we need everyone to help us in spreading this message.

“The weather is forecast to get even hotter over the weekend and into next week, but we would urge people to not be tempted to cool off in open water, unless it is a supervised area intended for swimming.

“Even in the summer months, open water can be very cold. Anyone entering cold water suddenly is susceptible to hyperventilation, which can result in the body going into seizure.

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“There can also be hidden currents and unseen dangers such as mud banks or items under the water which a swimmer can become caught on.”

The waterway where Alfie lost his life.The waterway where Alfie lost his life.
The waterway where Alfie lost his life.

Wakefield District Station Commander Jimmy Fitt said: “This is a truly tragic incident and our thoughts go out to all Alfie’s loved ones.

“When the warm weather comes around, we do see a spike in the number of people entering water – and this can unfortunately prove fatal.

“Our advice is to not go into any area of water that isn’t supervised - as the pull of water, cold water shock and hidden dangers can mean even strong swimmers get into difficulty.

“We need people of all ages to be aware of the risks – we know when it’s warm it’s tempting to get into the water, but you must only do it in safe designated areas or the consequences can be fatal.”