In a heartbreaking incident marking the World Drowning Prevention Day, a 23-year-old sailor, Haydn Griffiths, lost his life while swimming in the waters he loved.
Despite being fit and experienced in the sea, Haydn’s untimely demise has led his family to join an RNLI campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of drowning, stressing that nobody is immune, no matter their swimming skills or fitness levels.
“We never thought he would drown, he knew the sea too well and we just thought he would be found, injured maybe but still alive. He was unbelievably fit with less than two percent body fat… Maybe that didn’t help because he had no fat to help him float,” Haydn’s sister, Brogan, said.
Haydn, a budding merchant seaman, embarked on a three-mile swim with a friend to an offshore wind farm. Tragically, he got into difficulty during their return journey, and despite his friend’s efforts to reach the shore and seek help, Haydn couldn’t make it.
Dan Whiteley from the Hoylake lifeboat station recounted the desperate search efforts: “We were out for ten or eleven hours. We were desperate to find him because we always want to bring someone missing home to their loved ones.”
The incident sheds light on the significance of World Drowning Prevention Day, as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI’s) figures reveal lifeguards attended over 10,000 incidents on UK beaches last year, rescuing 13,758 people between July 25 and September 2.
Gareth Morrison, head of water safety at the RNLI, stressed, “Heart-breaking stories like Haydn’s really drive home the message that the sea is unpredictable, and tragedy really can happen to anyone, even those with huge experience around the water like Haydn.”
Haydn’s family, devastated by the loss, hopes that their warning will save lives during the upcoming school summer holidays when there is an expected increase in visitors to UK coastlines. With 226 accidental drowning deaths in the UK in 2022, they urge everyone to be aware of the risks and know what to do in emergencies.
As the third World Drowning Prevention Day highlights the issue globally, Haydn’s sisters, Megan and Brogan, are actively fundraising for the RNLI, acknowledging the heroic efforts of the men who work tirelessly to keep the waters safer.
While the sea might be a place of joy and adventure, the tragic event serves as a stark reminder of the importance of water safety and vigilance for everyone, irrespective of their familiarity with the water.