It never pays to overestimate your abilities—especially around water (which, for Sailors, is usually close). But people overestimate how well they can swim, and they underestimate the risk of oceans, lakes and streams.
So we see this in a fatality report:
- “Tried to swim across a river… swept downstream through the rapids and under the bridge. Body found four days later by local fisherman.”
- “… last seen at midnight taking a swim. Local authorities had issued a red flag on the beach due to strong currents and waves, the report said.”
From FY07 through FY11, 24 Navy personnel drowned. Thirteen were E-4 to E-6. Seven had been swimming. Eight mishaps involved watercraft: boats (4), sea kayaks (2), and rafts (2).
Some recommended precautions:
- Be realistic about your ability, even if you know how to swim.
- Recognize water conditions and depths.
- Swim in areas where a life guard is on duty.
- When a lifeguard says, “Don’t go in the water” and post warning flags, or whistle that you are too far away from shore, listen up and comply—they’ve watched too many people learn the hard way.
Don’t O.D. on the water and sun—it isn’t a marathon.