Ref. 25806-120THE chief executive of Keynes Country Park has warned parents to keep their children safe in the water this summer after an incident involving a seven-year-old girl.

Last weekend Mountford Manor Primary pupil Alexan-dra Veitch got into difficulties while swimming with twin sister Georgina at the park's artificial beach

Her father Steven, 28, a computer technician from Drakes Way, Swindon, said that the lifeguards on duty should have done more to help her.

But the parks says parents are responsible for keeping an eye on their children at the beauty spot.

Mr Veitch jumped in to the lake to rescue his daughter, who had paddled into water that was out of her depth and got into difficulties.

He claimed that the lifeguards sat oblivious while his daughter struggled and did not notice when he brought her to the shore vomiting water she had swallowed.

But Dr Simon Pickering, who is acting chief executive of the Cotswold Water Park Society, said that with hundreds of people in the water at peak times it was impossible for the two lifeguards and one ranger on duty to see everything that happens. And he pointed out that there are numerous copies of the park's Water Safety Code pinned up across the park.

The fourth point on the code reminds parents that "children should be supervised at all times even when there are lifeguards on duty."

And the back of every ticket issued to visitors states "users of the lake do so at their own risk. Children must be supervised at all times."

Dr Pickering said: "We have lifeguards as good practice but we do not have a statutory obligation to provide them and it does not mean parents can take their eyes off their children.

"Their job is to look for anyone in difficulty or to respond if they are called. But I am informed there were 150 people in the water when this incident happened and they cannot be expected to see every thing.

"They mainly look for people who have strayed beyond the buoy, and I have got great confidence in our guards."

But Mr Veitch and his wife Paula, 29, say that they cannot believe that no-one noticed his daughter getting into difficulties and says that having life guards can give a false impression that children are safe.

He said: "We had been watching the girls all afternoon but after my wife had taken our baby son Nathaniel to the edge of the water for a paddle I took my eyes off them for a moment to help her dress him.

"Georgina was walking towards the shore but Alexandra was bobbing up and down and Paula shouted that I had to run in and get her.

"The water was up to my chest and I'm almost six feet tall. I grabbed Alexandra and she had so little strength she could hardly cling to me. Everyone on the beach saw what happened and was clapping me.

"I didn't mind being the first person there but I thought there would be a lifeguard behind me but none of them noticed. Other parents need to be warned."

The Cotswold Water Park: