Officials warn residents to avoid illegal swimming areas

Western Mass News spoke with officials in Springfield and West Springfield who told us that they have not seen many people swimming illegally yet this week, but
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 6:37 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - With temperatures expected to be in the 90s through the rest of the week, many people are looking for places to cool off. However, local officials are warning the public to avoid any illegal and dangerous swimming areas.

Western Mass News spoke with officials in Springfield and West Springfield who told us that they have not seen many people swimming illegally yet this week, but they are on alert as this heat wave continues.

“Going to any swimming hole where there’s not a lifeguard on duty is extremely dangerous,” said Springfield Police Spokesman Ryan Walsh. “It can be more shallow than someone realizes. It can be deeper than someone realizes.”

The anticipated extreme heat arrived in western Massachusetts this week as temperatures soared above 90 degrees. Walsh advises people not to cool off in any dangerous and illegal swimming areas.

“There are issues at Indian Leap. When the pond is filled up, there is, or was, a rope swing over in Watershops Pond that had been an issue in the past. Five Mile Pond when there’s no lifeguard on duty and when it’s open,” Walsh said. “We advise people just to stay away from there. You know, kids, teenagers especially, like do those kinds of things, but it’s more dangerous than what it’s worth.”

Over in West Springfield, the fire department is also on the lookout for anyone swimming illegally as temperatures rise.

“We have some rivers locally, so we have had some people attempt to swim in the rivers and may not be familiar with the terrain or the current,” said West Springfield Fire Lieutenant Tony Spear.

He added that they have had to rescue people on the Westfield River before and shared this message:

“We’ve had to go out a couple times and rescue some people who are in distress in the rivers around us,” Lieutenant Spear told us. “Ideally, maybe use one of the city pools or something like that as opposed to going to a moving body of water, especially if you’re not familiar with it.”

With the heat advisory in effect through Thursday evening, several cooling centers are open across western Massachusetts. You can find a complete list here.