March 24, 2016
Burnham's Stert Island Swim cancelled due to new EU sea water rules

This year's Burnham-On-Sea's Stert Island Swim has been axed due to the EU's new sea water regulations, it has been announced this week.

Speaking to, the organisers said this summer's annual sea swim will not go ahead due to concerns about insurance caused by the new rules.

It comes after Burnham’s bathing water quality was given a 'poor' rating in the latest survey under the stricter new EU bathing water standards.

The annual Stert Swim draws big crowds of spectators to the seafront as part of Burnham's annual emergency services day each August.

However, organiser Martin Rogers from West Country Triathletes, pictured, told "We had a call from Sedgemoor District Council this week confirming that the new EU regulations on bathing water quality mean that the area that we swim in does not meet the required standards."

"Since swimming in the sea will not be recommended, we don't feel it would be right to encourage people to take part in our event."

"We feel it too much of a risk to host the event as any insurance would be invalidated."

He added: "It's a real shame, particularly because the water quality seems to be improving and has certainly not got any worse. I have swum in this event each year, so I know."

"We will abide by the new regulations, though, and will reconsider holding the event in 2017 if the sea water improves or if we're no longer in the EU and the sea water regulations return to how they were."

Burnham and Highbridge Mayor Michael Clarke said this week he's sad to hear the news. He told "This is a terrible shame and a big disappointment for the town. The Stert Swim always draws big crowds and attracts a lot of interest."

"Fortunately, a lot of work is underway to improve the sea water quality in Burnham, so I hope the swim will be able to return in the future."

Ken Smout, who represents the Town Council on the bathing water quality steering group, added: "I am disappointed that this lovely tradition has been cancelled. Our sea water quality has not got any worse - this is purely due to the EU's directive on water standards. That said, I fully understand why the organisers have made this decision. A lot of work is being done to improve the quality."

Burnham-On-Sea recently got a new Coastal Officer, Harriet Yates-Smith, who is working with the local community to reduce marine and beach litter in order to try and improve bathing water quality. She is running a campaign called Litter Free Coast and Sea Somerset, a project led by the Severn Estuary Partnership.

Furthermore, Wessex Water is spending £39million on a programme of work to improve the sea water quality in Burnham, working alongside other groups including local councils and the Environment Agency.

The Stert Island Swim originally started in 1915 but was not held for 40 years after 1960. The modern event has beeen running for 16 years, having been re-introduced in the year 2000.

Also see:
Tourism fightback starts after EU gives Burnham 'poor' sea water grade
Wessex Water's £39m project to improve Burnham's sea water 'on track'
New Burnham Coastal Officer appointed to improve sea water quality

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