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Thread: Picking up a distressed swimmer river currents

  1. #1
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    Picking up a distressed swimmer river currents

    Iím taking the ARC Safety for Coaches course. They say we should approach distressed swimmers from downwind and down current. I get the wind, but not the current. A boat and a swimmer will be effected by current the same way. In fact, away from shore or a fixed object you canít even detect a current, even if it is fast. Am I missing something?

  2. #2
    Moderator Rob Copeland's Avatar
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    Re: Picking up a distressed swimmer river currents

    A couple of things.

    First boat and swimmer are effected differently by current; current is not a constant especially in fast water conditions.

    Second and more important, a swimmer may get entrapped by underwater hazards when traveling downstream. if you are approaching from upstream when the swimmer is entrapped you could easily run them over.

    Third in fast water rescues you want the swimmer facing downstream with feet up.
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine and not those of U.S. Masters Swimming.

  3. #3
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    Re: Picking up a distressed swimmer river currents

    Bob S., thanks for bringing this important point to this forum.

    Rescue situations are driven by general rules, but they must apply to specific circumstances. "Downwind AND downcurrent" is confusing, particularly if the wind and current directions are different or--perish the thought--opposite. I've experienced this a few times myself. Glug, glug.

    I think that these instructions should be slightly rewritten, so that we teach that "we should approach distressed swimmers from downwind and downcurrent IF POSSIBLE", for all of the reasons that Rob listed above.

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