Swimmer banned from using snorkel in pool

PUBLISHED: 19:08 01 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:37 06 May 2010

SNORKELLING in a swimming pool is too dangerous, a leisure centre has ruled. Matt Bower, who lives in New England Street, St Albans, was banned from wearing his diving mask and snorkel in Westminster Lodge swimming pool for health and safety reasons. Whe

SNORKELLING in a swimming pool is too dangerous, a leisure centre has ruled.

Matt Bower, who lives in New England Street, St Albans, was banned from wearing his diving mask and snorkel in Westminster Lodge swimming pool for health and safety reasons. When visiting the pool recently, lifeguards told the 36-year-old swimmer that snorkelling equipment was dangerous because it covered both the eyes and nose.

But Matt said his mask allowed him to see more clearly under water while the snorkel aided his breathing. He added, "Essentially, wearing a mask and snorkel makes me feel more confident in water and therefore safer. Like millions of people I have been wearing a mask and snorkel in seas around the world and never had a single problem.

Matt has written to Westminster Lodge to appeal against the decision and said he thought the ban was ridiculous. "Using a snorkel isn't exactly rocket science, especially if you've been doing it for 15 years like I have", he said.

The same situation occurred earlier last month at a swimming pool in North London, when snorkeler Roland Grimm was banned from using his mask there. Roland eventually won his battle and has now offered support and encouragement to Matt's cause.

Said an optimistic Matt: "Roland eventually won his argument because the swimming pool realised their ruling was absurd. Hopefully it will be the same for me and I'll be able to wear my mask soon."

But Leisure Connection which runs Westminster Lodge on behalf of the council maintained that snorkelling in the pool was dangerous. A spokesperson said: "If someone wears a mask and snorkel and chooses to 'float' on the surface face down, it may not be evident if they are having breathing problems and our lifeguards might go to assist unnecessarily, taking their attention away from observing the whole pool."

The spokesperson added that Westminster Lodge didn't want to spoil Matt's enjoyment, so they were currently seeking advice from the British Sub-Aqua Club to see if masks and snorkels could be used in public swimming sessions.

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