The rock pool that lies on the north side of Umdloti may seem like a safe place to swim and many websites bent on selling you real estate or accomodation would have you believe that it is, but it most certainly is not. It could well be one of the most dangerous places in our country.


This pool is not a purpose built concrete walled structure like the many safe tidal pools up and down our coast but in fact a large natural rock formation, where over time the outgoing water has carved two very deep channels through the soft limestone rock of what functions as the pool's outer wall.


On a high tide or during times of larger than normal swell, the surf constantly washes over these rocks that make up the back of the pool, filling it with water that then drains out through the two channels. This creates a permanent rip current so strong that quite often no human being would be capable of swimming against it. Effectively creating a perfect trap. But for reasons unknown, bathing is never banned here, even in the most horrific conditions. No attempt is made to educate naïve pool users as to the unique danger of this place. And no engineering solution is put in place to make this pool safe.


Bathers are kept alive during council bathing hours only by the constant vigilance of lifeguards or through the rescue and retrieval of those that have become trapped in unrecoverable situations. But after hours bathers are often just abandoned. Authorities believe that a small sign on the road stating lifeguard working hours justifies this. No large "no swimming" signs are placed in the sand as is done on other beaches. And bathers often swim here in large numbers, unaware of the danger.


During sixteen years in Umdloti I have seen an incredible number of people die here. And an even greater number have had to be rescued by members of the public either before lifeguards come on duty or after they go off in the evening. Thankfully lifeguard hours were extended several years ago and there has been a massive drop in the death rate. But there are still gaps in the early mornings and evenings where the public are left unprotected during daylight hours.


The previous head of lifesaving in the area did some research that lead him to the conclusion that over a ten year period (before guarding hours were extended), in the region of sixty people died here after hours. From what I and others have witnessed this number is quite plausible.


Recently there has been a massive increase in the number of people using this pool, both as an alternative to Durban's beaches and because those from nearby towns and townships believe the pool offers safe bathing for non swimmers. At the same time I have observed what I believe to be a changed attitude of those tasked with guarding the pool. As a result I feel that further tragedy here in the near future is unavoidable.


The bottom line is that this is a deadly spot with two permanent rip currents sucking out the back and as such it is unconscionable that bathers are allowed into the water here. And it is surely outrageous that in the twenty first century an engineering project cannot be implemented to either make this pool safe or prevent bathing here.


So, you have been warned (well, the fortunate few that have stumbled across this website have anyway).