In defence of Tenerife’s hotel swimming pools …

Following the recent tragedy of Presley Stockton, who drowned in the swimming pool of the hotel Paradise Park in Los Cristianos, The Sun has led several British tabloids in publishing extremely emotive pieces about hotel swimming pools here generally, calling them among the worst in Europe for safety. In particular, they report that the lifeguard was not doing his job, was chatting to girls, and that there was only one guard on duty when there should have been two and that the one who was present did not know what to do anyway. Worse, they put these words in the mouths of members of the child’s family who weren’t even on the holiday. Moreover, in an attempt to show how awful our hotels’ pools are, the papers give examples of other tragic incidents which have taken place “in the Canaries and Tenerife” … citing Ibiza, Marbella, Catalonia …

And so, for anyone reading those articles and also this one, and who might think twice about the wisdom of coming to a hotel here, it is important to set a few things straight. First, the hotel emphatically denies that there was only one lifeguard on duty, and indeed has issued a statement saying that there were two and it was they who between them pulled the child out of the water and attempted resuscitation for the few minutes it took for emergency services to arrive. The hotel continued that it was doing everything in its power to assist the family, helping by any means it could including provision of technical and human resources from the hotel itself, the hotel association Ashotel, and the Canarian Government. In addition, lifeguards are highly trained, and cannot be employed without full professional qualifications and regular routine training to ensure they are able to act and react appropriately, securely, and instantly: indeed, hotels’ very licences to remain open depend on their adherence to the full and extensive range of regulations in place.

The Canaries admittedly do not have brilliant statistics for drownings, but the vast majority of them take place in the sea, and sadly the majority also involve foreigners, often elderly, who do not know the dangers that can apply to any coast anywhere, and also don’t inform themselves about the beach flags used, cold water shock, undertow, rip tides, and so on: please see HERE for official water safety advice. We are talking, however, about the sea, not pools, and generally older people, not children. The posts HERE and HERE are just the last two annual ones I have written on drownings in Tenerife: please do see for yourself how few incidents involve children, and how very few involve swimming pools, let alone hotel swimming pools specifically.

Obviously children and water are a potentially lethal mixture, but it is scandalous to imply that lifeguards are irresponsible, or untrained, or useless, and in defence of the safety of Tenerife’s hotel swimming pools the statistics themselves simply do not bear out the “among the worst in Europe” claim. Indeed, lifeguards themselves are proud of their training and professionalism which thankfully result in an incredibly low number of fatalities in the pools of hotels whose very existence depends on people having good, and safe, holidays. The tabloids’ attempt to generate outrage from tragedy by casting aspersions on highly motivated and dedicated vocational professionals is the real scandal here, and does nothing whatsoever to help anyone, least of all the family of the child who has just lost his life in what the hotel says is the first such incident in its 30-year history.


  1. Wise words Janet. The level of tabloid journalism in the UK is appalling. I served as a Detective Sergeant in The Met Police and served on a number of high profile cases. The reports in the newspapers were always inaccurate or worse simply fabricated. I no longer read any UK newspapers. It is a tragedy to lose Presley in such circumstances, and everyone should wait before rushing to judgement. In the meantime my thoughts are with the family at this very difficult time.

  2. Thank you Janet, most rational people realise that the Sun is nothing short of a comic. Still it does not detract from the potential harm such stories can do to a hotels business. I believe the hotels account.

  3. Good article also there will be accidents in water as a high percent of people are spending their time by a pool or in the sea due to the heat. It saddens me when I see lifeguards ignored or abused by people when they try to keep the pools safe by sticking to their rules ie no lilos in the pool

  4. Well said janet, but to be honest nothing that rag prints is true or accurate, ask anyone from Liverpool after the lies they printed after Hillsborough. It’s disgraceful that they have used the tragic circumstances surrounding Presley as a means to pad out the gutter rag, after all there is a family grieving. As a resident of Tenerife and a worker in a pool bar I find the lifeguards have a pride in their jobs, its a career to them not something to fill in the summer months. My heart goes out to Presley s family but also to the lifeguards involved and to everyone who witnessed this awful tragic accident.

  5. Very well said Janet . It was a terrible tragedy and yet always the tabloids over sensationalise the story. How dreadful for the little boys family. I for one was very grateful for your much fuller and informative report on the requirements of the lifeguards and in fact on the true figures. Thank you

  6. A very good and explanatory item which states the facts and not speculation

  7. At the end of the day it is the parent or carer of their child that are responsible for their safety.
    If a child cannot swim they must wear arm bands or similar when running around or playing near water……its no brainier as they say!
    Too often I see parents just chilling and drinking around the pool reading books etc while the kids are playing in the pool oblivious of the danger.
    I am not saying this has happened In this case at all as such tragic accidents do all happen.
    I’ve also noticed on the beaches when waves are so strong and can knock a grown up off their
    feet (let along a youngster) they often just sit on their sunbeds and let the kids play in the waves some distance away!
    The Lifeguards are an extra for safety and not child minders. They are an excellent team especially in Tenerife.
    So don’t put the blame on them.

  8. Good article Janet. Why blame the life guards for this. Where were his parents when this terrible tragedy happened?
    Rest in peace little man.

  9. Thanks for that …. Tabloids sell papers…not holidays. Poor little boy lost his life. Not an excuse for an unreliable information.

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