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Read Kalin’s story… Swim near a LIFEGUARD and stay safe at the beach! #WorldDrowningPreventionDayWORLD DROWNING PREVEN…

Read Kalin’s story… Swim near a LIFEGUARD and stay safe at the beach! #WorldDrowningPreventionDayWORLD DROWNING PREVENTION DAY! Reports of drownings and death across our Emerald Coast beaches have dominated news headlines for the past month. Despite what th…ose stories may lead you to believe, SWFD lifeguards successfully rescue and assist hundreds of swimmers every summer, who walk away from the beach with a better understanding of the power of the Gulf of Mexico. For World Drowning Prevention Day (July 25), we’re sharing the story below from South Walton beach patron Kalin Mayberry, who gave us the permission to share her experience after being rescued by SWFD Lifeguard Sam Kalish back in May. Kalin told SWFD she hopes her story will inspire others to swim near a lifeguard and take rip current information seriously. “May 13 started out as the perfect day for the beach. It was a yellow flag, but there had been for the past few days and the currents really didn’t seem too strong. We started our day going over what to do should a rip current appear. A group of 5 of us went out into the water; 2 on the paddle boards for a second/third time and the rest waiting to board. It all seemed to be so normal and within an instant, it wasn’t. Their paddle boards got away from them when a big wave hit, and they appeared to be struggling a little bit with all of the gear. The 3 of us not on boards went to help. Two friends helped one of the gals, and one friend was struggling with a strong current, the paddle board, and the oar. She asked for help, and I took the oar, telling her to use the board to float to shore. Then, out of nowhere, the ocean floor seemed to drop. The water kept taking me south towards the Gulf instead of north towards the shore. Every time I would touch sand with my toes, my next step would be met with nothing. I focused on taking a breath before each wave, and relaxing my body to ride it out. There was literally nothing else I could do. Before long, the people on shore were too tiny for me to make any of them out. I was able to count 4 bodies so I knew everyone was out, but I was still treading water and a friend ran to grab help. Thank GOD for Lifeguard Sam. He calmly swam to me with his surfboard, Baywatch-style, and took me to shore (with the oar in tow!). He kept me laughing and joking about it despite the gravity of the situation. All of that to say- I’m a great swimmer. I’m an experienced swimmer. I’ve swam my entire life, and in the ocean NUMEROUS times. But nothing can truly prepare you for the sheer terror of not knowing what will happen when a rip current actually gets you. I am so, SO thankful to be alive with the rest of the group and have the ability to tell this story. The lesson here- always swim near a lifeguard, check the water status before you go, and always take rip current warnings seriously. We saw the rip current warning after we were safe, but now we know where to check before we go out.” #WorldDrowningPreventionDay #swimnearalifeguard USLA Southeast Region United States Lifesaving Association

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