Boaters wishing to swim can stay safe if they follow some basic rules, says a representative of the state Department of Natural Resources.
Rich Lowry, area supervisor of the ODNR Division of Watercraft in Akron, said swimmers need to make sure of several basic things before they decide to take the plunge into the water.
Over the past weekend, three people died due to drowning, two at area lakes. On Saturday, 21-year-old Eli Miller drowned in Mosquito Creek Reservoir after he jumped into the lake from a boat. Miller was swimming in the boat-launching area near state Route 88 late Saturday.
Tribune Chronicle / Virginia Shank
Connor Makosky, 12, a seventh-grade Lakeview Schools student, prepares to take the plunge at Waddell Pool in Niles on Tuesday. Experts are stressing water safety in light of recent swimming deaths.
Also Saturday, Cory Lowder, 26, of Canton, was rescued by crews from Berlin Lake, but he later died.
On Saturday morning in Liberty, Bruce Banks, 17, drowned after police say he climbed a fence with some friends and jumped into the pool at the Logan Swimming and Tennis Club.
The emergencies have brought to light the importance of swimming safety, area experts said Tuesday.
Safety tips when swimming from a boat:
Ensure the boat is anchored securely;
Swim in a safe, secluded place;
Wear a life jacket;
Always enter the water feet first.
Source: Rich Lowry, area supervisor,
ODNR Division of Watercraft
Lowry said it is important to swim only in an area designated as a swimming area for boaters and to make sure boats are anchored properly so they do not drift away. He said in Miller's case, the boat moved away too fast for him to catch up with it.
''It doesn't take a lot of surface wind for your boat to drift faster than you can swim,'' Lowry said.
Lowry also said anyone wishing to swim from a boat should not do so in areas where there is heavy boat traffic.
''It's like swimming on the interstate,'' Lowry said.
Instead, swimmers should swim from a boat in an out-of-the-way, secluded area, like a cove, Lowry said.
Swimmers should also always wear a life jacket and also enter the water feet first, Lowry said.
Anyone wishing to swim from the boat should also know all the park rules, Lowry said. He said Berlin and Mosquito each have slightly different rules and that boaters and swimmers should know them.
In the case of Banks, Jay Rosenthal, Learn to Swim coordinator for the Mahoning Valley Red Cross, said it is important to swim somewhere where it is safe.
The fact that people jumped a fence to get in a pool where there was no lifeguard is not safe, Rosenthal said.
Rosenthal said swimmers also should know their own abilittes and make sure they can see the bottom or at least know what is on the bottom, such as glass or other objects.
And for someone swimming at a public pool, just because a lifeguard is on duty does not mean parents or guardians should shirk their responsibilities, Rosenthal said.
He said parents should be in the water with children younger than 5, and should also be at least by the pool with children younger than 12.