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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
John Dunne

Boy, 16, dies after getting into difficulties swimming in heatwave

A 16-year-old who had just finished his GCSEs has died after getting into difficulties while swimming in Wakefield during the heatwave, West Yorkshire Police has announced.

The body of schoolboy Alfie McCraw, from Wakefield, was found following a search of the water after the teenager was reported missing on Monday afternoon.

He was swimming in the Aire and Calder Navigation and his death has prompted warnings to those cooling off in open water.

Superintendent Nick Smart said: “This was an extremely tragic incident which has resulted in the loss of the life of a boy who had just finished his GCSEs.

“We have specially trained officers who are supporting Alfie’s family at this unimaginably awful time.

“We are working with the Canal & River Trust to deliver some inputs into schools before they break up for the holidays to warn of the dangers of open water swimming, but we need everyone to help us in spreading this message.”

He added the force urges people to “not be tempted to cool off in open water, unless it is a supervised area intended for swimming”.

Emergency services have also issued alerts in recent days of the dangers of open water which can be extremely cold, meaning individuals may be more susceptible to hyperventilation.

Superintendent Smart added: “Even in the summer months, open water can be very cold. Anyone entering cold water suddenly is susceptible to hyperventilation, which can result in the body going into seizure.

“There can also be hidden currents and unseen dangers such as mud banks or items under the water which a swimmer can become caught on.”

Jimmy Fitt, Wakefield District Station Commanders, said: “This is a truly tragic incident and our thoughts go out to all Alfie’s loved ones.

“When the warm weather comes around, we do see a spike in the number of people entering water – and this can unfortunately prove fatal.

“Our advice is to not go into any area of water that isn’t supervised - as the pull of water, cold water shock and hidden dangers can mean even strong swimmers get into difficulty.

“We need people of all ages to be aware of the risks – we know when it’s warm it’s tempting to get into the water, but you must only do it in safe designated areas or the consequences can be fatal.”

More advice about open water swimming can be found at: Open water swimming | Safety on our waterways | Canal & River Trust (

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