You’ve worked hard for months, you’ve won your final and you’ve earned your celebrations.  But what happens when those celebrations go wrong?

In a recent incident, a rower sustained significant and debilitating injuries to their face, stomach and hands after diving into shallow water at a rowing venue and hitting hidden submerged rocks.  They also sustained significant injury to one of their hands, these are too graphic to display.

If a cox or rower had landed on their back or head in the same location, the injuries could have been much more serious.

Hidden underwater objects can cause a life-changing injury, and the majority of waters around pontoons and river or canal banks are relatively shallow. They can also contain objects ranging from hypodermic needles to fence posts or shopping trolleys.

Even in familiar open waters, it is often difficult to see what lies beneath the surface or how deep the water is. Diving or throwing people into such water can be unsafe. Do not do it unless you are quite certain that the water is deep enough and clear of hidden objects.

Did you know?

Each year, millions of people watch an Oxford or Cambridge cox take an involuntary swim as part of the traditional University Boat Race celebrations. What they don’t see, however, are the safety officials responsible for scouring the riverbed beforehand – ensuring the safety of the cox by removing any potentially hazardous, hidden objects. 

Your club or event probably won’t be able to check every inch of the riverbed before racing begins, but the message is simple: never throw your cox or crewmates into the water, or dive in yourself, unless you are certain that it is safe to do so.

If you have to enter the water then do it feet first.