Twelve people in our state have drowned so far in this preseason to official summer. A 17-year-old 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 pulled out to sea by a rip current off Island Beach State Park.

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

It may be overconfidence.

According to the American Red Cross, 80% of Americans say they can swim at least well enough to survive an emergency. Yet only 54% can actually meet the benchmark of being able to perform all five basic skills one needs to swim safely.

small girl swimming underwater
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Red Cross spokeswoman Laura Howe says, “Most Americans can’t swim nearly as well as they believe they can.” In one of the Dirty Harry movies, Clint Eastwood said, “A man’s GOT to know his limitations.”

We don’t.

The five basic skills are:

— Treading water or floating for one minute

— Getting out of a pool without a ladder

— Swimming one pool length without stopping

— Jumping into the deep end and coming up for air

— Turning completely around in a circle and then finding a way out

One out of four of us thinks we can do these things but are incorrect. That overconfidence could be fatal. Hopefully, these drowning tragedies start to flatten out and it won’t be as deadly a summer as it’s shaping up to be.

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

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