Portsmouth’s beaches get set for summer with extended safe swimming zone


As the number of beachgoers increases with the warm weather, Portsmouth City Council is working with the RNLI to extend the safe swimming areas along the city’s beaches.

Over the past year, the council has been working with the RNLI to monitor the sea and shore conditions and review where it is safest to take a dip and which stretches of water should be avoided by swimmers.

The safe swimming zone, patrolled by lifeguards, will be extended eastwards with a new seasonal RNLI lifeguard unit on Eastney Beach, opposite St George’s Road. RNLI lifeguards will also be on duty at two further stations east and west of South Parade Pier, seven days a week from early July until September. The Portsmouth & Southsea voluntary lifeguards are also now operating at weekends between The Pyramids and South parade Pier.

While the safe swimming zone has been extended eastwards, swimming off the beach between the Blue Reef Aquarium and Hovertravel is no longer deemed safe. Changes to the seabed have led to a steep drop off from the beach and exposed parts of the old wooden groyne structures. These are submerged at high water and a major hazard to swimmers. Signs warn beachgoers of the risks of swimming in this area and ask people to swim in areas patrolled by lifeguards. Similar warnings are also in place near the Hotwalls.

Councillor Ben Dowling, Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development, said: “We have some fantastic beaches in Portsmouth and, with more of us holidaying at home, we’re expecting lots of people to visit and enjoy our coastline this summer. We want to make sure that if people are going into the water that they do so in safe swimming spots, where the depth and currents are more predictable and help is on hand if someone gets into difficulties. The RNLI and volunteer lifeguards play a vital role monitoring the sea conditions and keeping beachgoers safe, so we’re asking anyone taking a dip to follow their advice and stay safe in the sea.”

Craig Maltby, Lead Lifeguard Supervisor for the RNLI, said: “We urge you to respect the water, always visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the flags. Remembering FLOAT can save lives at any time of year. If you find yourself in difficulty in the water keep calm and try not to panic. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean onto your back with your arms and legs in a star shape and control your breathing. Only then call for help, or if able, swim to safety. Call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard if you spot someone in trouble in the water.”

Tips for swimming safely:

  • Always swim between the red and yellow flags
  • Don’t swim in areas displaying warning signs or a red flag
  • Make sure you know the risks of swimming in the sea from rip currents, big waves, fast moving tides and cold water
  • Do not use inflatables in the sea as you can easily be swept out away from the beach and into danger
  • Cold water can seriously affect your breathing and movement. If you’re planning to swim, check the conditions and think about wearing a wetsuit
  • If you enter the water unexpectedly, relax and float, keep calm and signal for help
  • Never go into the water after drinking alcohol

If you’re in an emergency situation or spot someone else in trouble, you should call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

Find out more about staying safe at the beach this summer on the RNLI website.