Kingston: Body found in search for missing Thames swimmer after hottest day of year

The Thames Path in Richmond-upon-Thames (Derek Harper / Geograph)
The Thames Path in Richmond-upon-Thames (Derek Harper / Geograph)

A body has been recovered in the search for a missing swimmer who went into the Thames to cool down during the hottest day of the year.

The man got into difficulty near Barge Walk, Kingston at roughly 6.40pm on Sunday.

In an update on Monday, Metropolitan Police said a body had been found and that while formal identification was to take place, it was believed to be that of the missing man.

It comes after a search by the Met’s Marine Policing Unit, London Ambulance Service, London Fire Brigade, the RNLI and the National Police Air Service.

Scotland Yard said: “Police were called at 18:41hrs on Sunday, 12 May to the river at Barge Walk, Kingston. It was reported that a man had got into difficulty after entering the water to swim.

“At around 12:20hrs on Monday, 13 May, the body of a man was recovered by police officers from the river at Barge Walk, Kingston.

“Formal identification awaits, however officers believe this is the man who entered the water on Sunday.”

Chertsey in Surrey recorded 2024’s warmest temperature of 27.5C on Sunday, while parts of the capital enjoyed weather in the mid-20s.

Jadine Brunsdon, who works at a bar nearby, told BBC News: “I finished work at 6pm and I was sat with my friend on the river side and we were watching people swimming in the river

“We noticed them going in. Then about half an hour later we saw police cars and ambulances driving down.”

London Ambulance Service said: “We were called at 6.40pm on Sunday, May 12 to reports of a person in the River Thames at Barge Walk, Kingston.

“We sent resources to the scene to assist emergency service colleagues including ambulance crews and members of our hazardous area response team (HART).

“We were stood down by 10pm when the person had not been found.”

Police often warn Londoners not to swim in the Thames during heatwaves.

Although the river might seem like a natural place to cool off, the water is still very cold and dangerous.

Officers say the Thames remains hazardous due to strong currents, tides and whirlpools, while cold water shock can cause muscle weakness and disrupt heart rhythm.

A London Fire Brigade spokesman added: “We were called to reports of a man entering the River Thames near Kingston Bridge in Kingston yesterday evening.

“Firefighters worked alongside the London Ambulance Service, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Metropolitan Police Service and Coastguard.

“The Brigade was called at 6.52pm and the incident was over for firefighters at 9.13pm.”