Page last updated at 08:51 GMT, Friday, 25 April 2008 09:51 UK

Extra safety after surfer injured

Gwen Spurlock
Gwen Spurlock, 16, became ill after demonstrating the indoor surf machine

The company which runs Swansea's new 32m leisure centre has taken extra safety precautions on its surf ride after a top young competitor was hurt.

An accident apparently left Gwen Spurlock, 16, with a brain injury, and she has had an emergency operation.

She became ill after falling off the machine at its media launch at the LC.

Bay Leisure, which runs the LC, said it immediately took more precautions, with wetsuits and helmets compulsory, and there have been no other injuries.

Gwen, the reigning British junior champion, later complained of "bruising and headaches," has since had surgery to reduce swelling on her brain and has been off school for 10 weeks.

We were made aware some weeks back, via a third party, that she had apparently experienced a "whiplash" injury whilst on the surf rider and we immediately took extra safety precautions by making the use of additional protective equipment compulsory
Swansea's LC

But in a posting on the Surf Solutions website she said despite her skills she fell repeatedly "which was funny at first but then became a bit painful - bruising and headaches are the consequences".

Not long after, her condition deteriorated and she had to have two holes the size of 10p pieces drilled into her skull to relieve the pressure on her brain.

She has been away from Olchfa School in Swansea for ten weeks, as she is preparing for her GCSEs, and she has also missed a number of surfing events.

The teenager was expecting to go to the world championships in France at the end of May, but her family say that now looks unlikely.

Swansea Leisure Centre, known as LC
The LC insists all surf machine riders wear wetsuits and safety helmets

She has to go back to hospital next week for a brain scan.

In a statement, the LC said it had no record of an accident involving Miss Spurlock being reported or direct correspondence about it.

It said: "However, we were made aware some weeks back, via a third party, that she had apparently experienced a 'whiplash' injury whilst on the surf rider and we immediately took extra safety precautions by making the use of additional protective equipment compulsory.

"We have not been approached by anyone representing Miss Spurlock on this matter and we were certainly not aware that she had been in hospital."

The centre's surf machine is thought to be one of only 50 worldwide.


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