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Ladies Pond swimmers complain bacteria in water on Hampstead Heath could have made them sick

PUBLISHED: 11:45 17 October 2020

Forum '71 protesters upset at sewage problems at the Kenwood Ladies' Pond. Picture: Forum '71

Forum '71 protesters upset at sewage problems at the Kenwood Ladies' Pond. Picture: Forum '71

Archant

The Kenwood Ladies’ Pond has reopened, but swimmers have complained the bacteria in the water which has forced its closure twice this autumn may have made them ill.

Sarah Palmer, who said she fell ill within two days of swimming in the Hampstead Heath Ladies' Pond. Picture: Sarah PalmerSarah Palmer, who said she fell ill within two days of swimming in the Hampstead Heath Ladies' Pond. Picture: Sarah Palmer

One woman told the Ham&High how she had developed an illness consistent with E.Coli “within 24 hours” of her last swim, while the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond Association said it had records of four swimmers who said they had developed gastric complaints after swimming in recent weeks.

Two other women had told the KLPA of developing skin complaints, while members of the Forum ‘71 campaign group held a protest on Sunday October 11 highlighting the issue.

Muswell Hill nurse Sarah Palmer, 33, became ill after swimming in late August. She said: “I felt very unwell within two days of swimming in the pond, experiencing severe abdominal issues as well as an inner ear infection causing severe vertigo and requiring treatment with antibiotics.

“I remember swimming to the very end of the pond and smelling what seemed like sewage so I avoided that area.”

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Sarah added: “It’s really made me feel ill every time I even contemplate going to the pond. It’s like my body remembers being so unwell.”

Although the Ladies’ Pond did not close until September 17, between tests on August 3 and September 2 levels of E.Coli in the water rose from 390 to 650 colonies per 100ml.

Sarah added; “I trusted that regular testing would be in place and I wouldn’t need to worry as surely they would have noticed the smell and know the test results – and would not allow swimming in contaminated water.”

Mary Powell, vice-chair of the KLPA, added: “We remain concerned how long it took the City to respond to the first incident after reports of a smell, and the infrequency of water testing before this.”

A City of London Corporation spokeperson said water quality tests were now being carried out daily and added: “The test results received this weekend from Public Health England confirm the water quality now meets the correct standard and is safe to swim in. Therefore, we have reopened the ladies pond.

“We thank swimmers for their understanding and patience whilst the pond has been closed.”


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