Who are the new era of water men and women?

I am still amazed that no-one, to my knowledge, was hurt or seriously injured that afternoon

I am still amazed that no-one, to my knowledge, was hurt or seriously injured that afternoon - Credit: Archant

The last millennia has seen the crystal waters of Torbay used for some truly historic events.

Vessels from different worlds have visited out shores - from Viking longboats, Spanish Armada flagships to World War Two U-boats.

Access to our waters has traditionally been through the Royal Navy or commercial fishing; the use of the Bay for recreation would have been exclusively for the well healed.

A new era is upon us in Torbay. A new era where anyone can access our historic waters regardless of occupation, background or size of purse.

These are exciting times! Open water is now regarded as a playground for all- somewhere for sport and fitness, health and wellbeing, yoga and meditation.

Access is not only for use with a vessel, jet ski or board. Swimmers are flocking to appreciate our shallow sandy beaches and warm waters.

With the sun still high in the sky, I went for a late afternoon, midweek swim; one of my favourites from Goodrington to Elberry.

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The swim to Elberry was one of marine wonder. Fish and jellies of all descriptions, including my first sighting this season of a wondrous big barrel jelly, and the magical long tail of a thresher shark.

On the way back, I took a more leisurely stroke as the land breeze was building and the water began to chop.

Land breeze is created as the land cools much faster than the sea; this cooler air is drawn off the land to replace the warmer air still rising at sea.

This pace meant I could observe all the marine traffic.

I was stunned by the volume of water users. Midweek sailing was well under way with the number of sails on display normally reserved for national dingy championships. Powered craft of every shape and size buzzed around with a number of wake and skiers in tow. I saw more than 100 paddle boarders, kayakers and even a homemade Swallows and Amazons-style tub.

Then there were the swimmers not the bathers or paddlers in the shallows of which there were hundreds across the three beaches of Goodrington, Broadsands and Elberry, but the open water swimmers.

Donned with bright hats and swim floats, I passed more than I could count. I almost bumped into a few and stopped for a chat to a lovely couple from Manchester.

With this new era comes responsibility. The responsibility to know what you are doing and respect all the other water users.

There is more than enough space in the Bay for everyone to enjoy their experience safely. Unfortunately, as I found out in my own swim, not everybody is either experienced or respectful.

Swimming past Saltern Cove - between Broadsands and Goodrington South - it felt more like the 'wild west' than South Devon.

There were a number of paddle boards and two lads on an inflatable dinosaur struggling with the land breeze, a capsized kayak with kayaker swimming the upturned water-filled kayak back to shore, swimmers outside the five-knot markers and jet skis trying to set new water speed records inside the markers.

I am still amazed but obviously very thankful that no-one, to my knowledge, was hurt or seriously injured that afternoon.

So what can you do to be responsible?

Whatever activity you enjoy, get a lesson.

Taught by professionals, a lesson will give you a better understanding of your own ability and enlighten you how to interact with other water users.

Understanding safety for yourself and others will be paramount within your course.

If you would like to find out more, visit your local water safety charity website www.abovewater.org for a data base of videos/schools/ instructors/ trainers in South Devon and beyond.

You are the new era of water man and women, show some responsibility and get yourself trained!