GOLD COAST medal hero Duncan Scott has lent his voice to a water safety message this summer.

The Wee County swimmer, who bagged six medals at the Commonwealth Games, has joined forces with Scottish Water to highlight the dangers and risks around rivers, reservoirs and lochs.

Open watercourses can be very cold, deep and with hidden currents. It is difficult to spot anything underwater, where rubbish and reeds could get swimmers into difficulty.

Steep and slimy banks can make it difficult to get out and it can take a long time to get help as there are no lifeguards and the majority locations are rural.

Duncan, who leads Scottish Swimming’s Learn to Swim campaign which is supported by Scottish Water, said: “I think the Learn to Swim programme is helping to spread awareness about water safety across Scotland in addition to helping thousands of kids learn to swim.

“We are surrounded by coastline and thousands of lochs, rivers and reservoirs so it is incredibly important that people, including youngsters, are able to swim and are safe whenever and wherever they swim.”

According to figures from the National Water Safety Forum, there were 46 unintentional drownings in Scotland last year.

Even if someone is decent at swimming in an indoor pool, the hazards in an open body of water can catch them out

Carlene McAvoy, community safety development officer for RoSPA, explained: “One of the main dangers of open water is cold water shock, when the low temperature of water will affect the body’s normal functions and lead to someone getting into trouble.

“It can even affect the most confident swimmers. It’s important to remember that, even if it’s a hot day, the water can still be cold – it only needs to be 15 degrees or lower for cold water shock to kick in.”

An adult should always accompany children in an open body of water.

Peter Farrer, chief operation officer at Scottish Water, said: “While everyone should enjoy their school holidays or take pleasure in the country’s beautiful lochs, rivers and reservoirs, it’s absolutely vital that they stay safe at all times.

“Safety is a serious issue as, while the water may look harmless, there are many hidden dangers.

“We need to ensure children, and parents, are aware of these hazards.

“We are reminding parents to keep their children safe and asking adults to act responsibly around watercourses.”