Toxic algae puts a stop to charity swimmers at Rutland Water
A charity swimming event had to be called off after potentially deadly blue-green algae was found in the water.
More than 70 swimmers were due to take part in an open-water swim at Rutland Water on Sunday to raise money for the charity Epilepsy Action.
But the alarm was raised by competitors in the Vitruvian triathlon, which took place at the reservoir on Friday and Saturday.
Large clumps of the plant were floating in the water.
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It is understood the triathlon was completed.
Anglian Water, which owns Rutland Water, carried out tests after the algae was reported and the open-water swim – the first such event planned by the charity – was suspended.
The naturally occurring algal bloom can cause illnesses such as dermatitis, gastroenteritis and atypical pneumonia in humans when swallowed.
Toxins in the algae can also cause severe illness and even death to animals.
Jim Harrison, a former mayor of Oakham, said: "In the past, the algae has killed dogs.
"It's a shame because it was such a beautiful day and it was such a disappointment for the charity."
A spokesman for Anglian Water said: "The decision was taken as a precaution after the appearance of large amounts of algae in the water the day before.
"In hot, still weather the naturally occurring algae in fresh water can clump together and rise to the surface where it starts to break down, turning a tell-tale blue colour and releasing toxins that may cause skin and stomach problems.
"Signs at the site's car parks warn people that blue-green algae may be present.
"Extra signs are put out in affected areas in the event of an outbreak."
Tony Entwistle, Anglian Water's marketing and events manager, said: "It's a great shame we had to postpone Sunday's event, especially as it was to raise money for such a good cause.
"Nevertheless, safety must come first.
"The appearance of the algae on Saturday meant there was a very real possibility of blue-green algae in the water on the morning of the swim and we couldn't take a chance.
"We made the decision to postpone at the earliest opportunity so all the swimmers could be contacted and told not to come."
Stacey Rennard, of Epilepsy Action, said: " We are very disappointed the swim did not go ahead but the safety of our swimmers must be our first priority.
"We hope our swimmers will understand and are not too disappointed.
"We apologise for any inconvenience this cancellation caused for those who had signed up to take part."
The event has been rescheduled for Sunday, September 30.