SECURITY guards are patrolling a reservoir where swimmers are “risking their lives” in the water.

The guards have been introduced at Ardingly Reservoir after people entered the water unsupervised during lockdown, jumping from high platforms.

Some go swimming after drinking alcohol.

South East Water, which owns the reservoir, said more than 50 swimmers, several boats and large groups of people were seen in the water over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

Staff say cold water temperatures, silt and hidden pipework and machinery mean using the water is “extremely dangerous”.

Chris Kinsman, director of Ardingly Activity Centre, said people are “risking their lives” in the water.

He said: I’ve never seen it anywhere close to being as busy as this before.

“They have no wetsuits, some come after hours, some people are drinking alcohol, it’s a recipe for disaster.”

The activity centre hosts organised water sports and outdoor swimming training.

Mr Kinsman said: “We follow very strict procedures, our instructors are trained in first aid, we have people out in canoes alongside swimmers and the swimmers themselves have a buddy system and know the guidelines.

“If you’re out there on your own then you don’t have any of that.”

Staff say the number of people in the water has increased during the lockdown period and people have been spotted jumping into the water from height.

A spokesman for South East Water said the security guards will be on site making sure visitors follow the rules and social distancing guidelines.

On May 15, a body was found by the reservoir after a frantic search for a missing man.

Haywards Heath residents heard a police helicopter hovering overhead and police said they had found a body.

A spokesman said: “We were being assisted by the National Police Air Service helicopter in a search for a missing man.

“Shortly after midnight, the man’s body was sadly discovered close to Ardingly Reservoir.

“There are no suspicious circumstances and the coroner’s officer has been informed.”

Ardingly Reservoir is west of Ardingly. Its southern end is a 74.5-hectare local nature reserve owned and managed by South East Water.

The reservoir feeds the River Ouse and is five miles north of Haywards Heath.