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Why don’t people just swim back to the boat?

On Behalf of | Jul 20, 2023 | Boating Accidents

Tragically, there are accidents every year where people either fall overboard or intentionally jump off of a ship and then drown before they can be saved. They’re simply not able to swim long enough to be rescued.

One question that people ask in a situation like this is simply why that person doesn’t swim back to the boat. They have fallen overboard, but they’re probably not more than a few yards from the boat, at least at the moment that they hit the water. That’s when they are closest to safety, so why not just swing back to the boat and climb – or be hauled – aboard?

Swimming can be a fatal mistake

Many experts say that people shouldn’t try to swim if they’ve fallen in the water. That is their immediate instinct, but it can be deadly. It can cause them to inhale water, it makes them less buoyant, it increases their heart rate and it can cause them to quickly become exhausted – especially if they’re not used to swimming frequently or in rough water. Additionally, the shock of landing in cold water can be very difficult for people. It can take their breath away and put them in shock. Their body will naturally react by trying to swim, but, for the reasons just noted, this may not be the safest reaction.

It’s often impossible

Additionally, suggesting that someone should just swim back to the boat may not be helpful because doing that is often impossible. Even a slow-moving boat is probably traveling much faster than most people can swim. They may never catch up, and swimming can leave them exhausted and in an even worse position than they were before.

Finally, most people who accidentally fall into the water are not dressed for this turn of events. They may be trying to swim in shoes and day clothes, which is exceedingly difficult and can keep them from moving quickly enough to catch back up to the boat. This is why floating and waiting for rescue is often the most effective option.

Have you been involved in such an incident?

Have you lost a loved one in a boating accident or have you suffered injuries as a result of one? If so, it’s important for you and your family to know what legal options are available to you. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.