Pools vs Surf: Safety Advice Oceans Apart

Hot weather in our area will drive a lot of people to cool off at the beach or sit poolside during the 4th of July weekend.  Experts caution that swimming safety is not the same in the ocean as in a pool.  Tybee Island will see thousands of swimmers over the holiday weekend.

For some, there is some serious pool time on the agenda for the holiday weekend. But for parents who don’t accompany their children to the pool, they should keep in mind that there are certain swimming skills that are basic to water safety at the pool.  Jackie Dixon manages Savannah’s nine municipal pools. “They know how to roll over and get a breath and float on their backs and then roll back over to their stomachs to swim,” Dixon says.  She says all nine municipal pools in Savannah are free and open to the public.  Dixon says lifeguards are watchful about who swims in water over their head, in fact, there’s a test.  ” We make sure that they swim two laps across the shallow end before they can go into the deep end.”

However, the man in charge of the lifeguard at Tybee Island Ocean Rescue says water safety in a swimming pool is not the same as water safety at the beach.

Captain Josh Janufka says there are other factors you have to keep in mind to stay safe when you swim in the surf.  ” We have current, we have riptides. We have different changes in the tide heights, stuff like that,”  says Janufka.  He adds that swimming in the surf can make seasoned pool swimmers feel like a fish out of water and that’s where people can get into real trouble at the beach.  “You can be a good swimmer, but if you’re not familiar with the area, people get scared… and they freak out and that’s usually what happens and causes people to get in trouble.”

While lifeguards at the ocean have to scan the waves for swimmers in trouble, one of the biggest safety concerns at the city’s pools is getting kids to curtail their excitement when they’re out of the water. “Most of our accidents come from kids running in the rest rooms and on the deck,” Dixon said.

Even though bumps and bruises top the list of trouble in pools in Savannah, they keep a watchful eye for swimmers in trouble in the city’s pools. No matter which body of water you may use.  Experts say there is a pair of things to keep in mind for safe swimming: maintain a healthy respect for the potential danger and know your limits and abilities and don’t push either one of them.


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