Knowing Your Limits

When jumping into a swimming pool or a river, most people will take the leap without a second thought. However, it is crucial that before entering a body of water, you must first take into account several factors.

  1. Swimming Experience - No matter your age, it is important to first determine how proficient a swimmer you are. According to the American Red Cross, over half of American adults report that they lack the basic skills needed to swim. Swimming ability--or lack thereof--is not strictly confined to small children. If you misjudge your own ability, it could be fatal. Be sure to wear a lifejacket if you know you cannot swim or are unable to swim longer distances.

  2. Depth of the Water - Before getting into a body of water, it is important to first check to see how deep the water is. With swimming pools, this can be quite simple, seeing as how there are labels marking the depth of the water. However, with natural bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, and oceans, this can be a bit trickier. Because of this, activities such as cliff-diving and jumping off of bridges is extraordinarily dangerous. If the body of water you are jumping into is too shallow, it can break bones and potentially lead to death. On the other hand, if it is too deep, there's a potential for drowning.

  3. The temperature of the water - Some don't always take water temperature into consideration, but it is pivotal during swimming. Colder temperature waters lead to muscle cramps and early fatigue. Even in cold swimming pools, there is a high risk of fatigue and drowning if the water is too cold. You may even be surprised to hear that even 60-degree water is far too chilly to swim in for a long period of time. Keep yourself safe by swimming in warmer temperatures.

  4. The water's current - Not only do you have to be cautious of the depth and temperature of the water, but it is also important to keep in mind the water's current. Of course, when you're in a swimming pool or a lake this isn't an issue, but river currents and ocean waves can be extremely dangerous. Countless individuals have been pulled out too far in the ocean and have been battered by waves, causing serious injury and drowning. River currents are also forces to be reckoned with, as they can easily pull you under. Always be cautious of river and ocean currents.

  5. A person's state of mind - It is never a good idea to mix any drugs or alcohol with water. Someone who is intoxicated can easily misjudge a situation that would prove to be too dangerous if they were sober. Even one wrong move and an intoxicated individual can end up drowning. Stay safe by staying away from water after consuming alcohol or taking drugs.


If you want to swim safely, be sure to first survey your surroundings as well as yourself. It is critical that you take into account the factors above to ensure a fun, yet safe swim.

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