Swimming experts alarmed by high rate of drownings


Swimming safety experts say that they are worried by the high rate at which drowning deaths have happened in New Jersey this summer.

The latest death happened Sunday when a 24-year-old swimmer was swept away in a rip current in Point Pleasant Beach. Zuzasna Oravcova’s body was found nearly 24 hours later in Toms River when two off-duty lifeguards stumbled upon her.

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“More than anything our hearts go out to the families of those that have lost loved ones as a result of drowning in New Jersey,” says Safe Kids NJ Director Carol Ann Giardelli. “We’ve had a tough year this year. The tides have been tough.”

Giardelli says that in a normal two-month span from Memorial Day on, it’s average to have eight to 10 water deaths. But this year that number seems to have doubled. She says that parents and children alike should follow some safety tips when swimming in the ocean, lake, river or pool.

“Drowning is silent. A lot of people feel as if children will be flailing their arms and reaching and gasping for breath to try to get the parents’ attention,” Giardelli says. “The unfortunate thing is the child just goes under.”

She says that swimmers should use the buddy system and never swim alone. She also says that swimmers should never swim when lifeguards are not present.

A majority of the deaths that have occurred this summer have happened when lifeguards were off duty.

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