Why so many drownings in New Jersey? Surprisingly few can swim

Twelve people in our state have drowned so far in this preseason to the official summer. A 17- and 22-year-old were the latest victims at Sunset Lake in Mine Hill Beach, Morris County. A 24-year-old man drowned in Belmar a few days ago. The next day, a woman in her 50s died after being swept out to sea by a rip current off Island Beach State Park.

We go through this every year and it is heartbreaking. How does this happen so often?

Maybe it’s overconfidence.

According to the American Red Cross, 80% of Americans say they can swim at least well enough to survive an emergency. Still only 54% can actually reach the benchmark to be able to perform the five basic skills needed to swim safely.

little girl swimming underwater


Red Cross spokeswoman Laura Howe said: “Most Americans don’t know how to swim as well as they think they can. In one of the Dirty Harry films, Clint Eastwood said, “A man must know his limits.”

We don’t.

The five basic skills are:

— Walk on water or float for one minute

— Getting out of a swimming pool without a ladder

— Swim a pool length without stopping

– Jump into the depths and rise to breathe

— Turn completely in a circle then find an exit

One in four of us think we can do these things, but are wrong. This overconfidence could be fatal. Hopefully these drowning tragedies start to smooth out and the summer isn’t as deadly as it looks.

The opinions expressed in the above post are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

You can now listen to Deminski & Doyle — On demand! Listen to New Jersey’s favorite radio show every day of the week. Download the Deminski & Doyle show wherever you get podcasts, on our free app, or listen now.

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