A WILD swimming spot in Taunton will benefit from extra support and facilities throughout September thanks to the Friends of French Weir Park, a voluntary group that helps look after the riverside park.

Every Saturday this month, from 9.30am until 2.30pm, the Friends are providing supervised swimming in the Tone accessed by the river steps next to COACH.

A qualified lifeguard has been booked and a first aider will also be on duty.

Janine East, chairman of the group, said: “Seasoned swimmers have been swimming here almost every day for years. They belong to the Bathing Station group on Facebook.

"We wanted to make extra provision though, for a trial period, to reassure people who are new and introduce them to wild swimming as people often have many questions before taking their first dip.

"We’re making additional provision for a month so people can try out wild swimming with support, which we hope they’ll find reassuring for their first couple of swims, particularly for people with children."

The Environment Agency designates the Tone in Taunton as of “moderate” quality and the Friends will be testing the water for any bacteria every Saturday morning, displaying the results, along with the water temperature. Safety rules include advice to keep your head out of the water “just in case”.

COACH, a charity based in the boathouse beside the river, is making its changing rooms available and there are also public toilets available there.

Gideon Amos, a volunteer with the Friends and the constituency LibDem Parliamentary candidate, said: "I swim here regularly and it’s great to see what was historically a bathing station at French Weir getting a new lease of life.

"I want to see river quality improved for everyone so I’m delighted the Friends will be recording how many people swim here regularly to see whether future improvements can be made.”

Ms East added: "Everyone is welcome. We just want to celebrate the historic bathing station in our park and on a trial basis, support the many, many swimmers already swimming here, and also welcome new ones."