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How to behave in the water; how to deal with an unexpected danger while swimming;

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October 22, 2021

SAFETY AND PERFORMANCE IN THE OCEAN – THE MIND OF AN OCEAN HERO

BRUCKNER CHASE - Founder and CEO of BC Ocean Positive, and Professional Ocean Lifeguard

The most valuable tool to bring into every open water session is a Calm Mind.

Spend enough time in the open water, and you will experience everything dynamic water and endurance training can provide. This includes perfect days, turbulent waters, quality time with friends, and dangerous situations where you or someone you see needs help. Staying calm in the open water in any situation will help you make sound decisions based on what you know, not simply what you feel. The goal of every swim is for all swimmers to get back to shore ready for more. You could be the hero who insures that happens when things go wrong.

When you see someone in trouble or when you find yourself in unexpected danger…TAKE TEN, an emotional pause to assess the situation before you act. Whether you are swimming or watching from shore the actions may look a little different, but the process is the same with the goal to protect yourself first, before helping others.

1. Assess the situation and conditions – Never charge into a dangerous situation that is not safe based on your experience, skill, and equipment on-hand.
2. Make contact – Signal to others in your swim group or those watching from shore. Ideally, signal to a lifeguard and activate the local emergency response system via phone or radio.
3. Grab something that floats or will allow you to reach the person in trouble. This may be your own swim buoy or something along the shore.
4. Wait for professional help to arrive and use that calm mind to help relax the person in trouble.

It seems like a lot to do in a handful of seconds, but even the most experienced ocean lifeguards on the most dangerous beaches follow the same process. They signal to others, choose the right equipment for the rescue, stabilize the victim, and wait for support to get back to shore. For lifeguards the process is instilled through hours of training. For ocean swimmers and athletes, the practice is taking a moment to consider the process on your own and teaching others in your swim pod.

Another suggested practice is packing an Open Water Safe Swim Bag. Here are some items to consider:
• Whistle – To signal others.
• High Visibility Flotation – A compact inflatable device or a personal swim buoy.
• Open Water / Surf Fins – Fins are NOT cheating and they may provide a little extra speed to get out through surf, assist a swimmer in trouble, or punch through dangerous currents.
• Personal Identification – Tag your bag with your name and emergency contact information.
• Phone or VHF Radio – If your favorite, remote swim spot does not have cell coverage, a VHF radio may be your only way to reach emergency responders to assist in a water emergency.

Your Best Places to Swim should always be your best times in the water. When a day becomes dangerous stay calm, Take Ten and protect yourself first so you can save others. Don’t let dangerous situations become anyone’s worst experience!

ABOUT BRUCKNER CHASE

Founder and CEO of BC Ocean Positive, and Professional Ocean Lifeguard Bruckner Chase is an internationally recognized ocean advocate and professional waterman whose athletic accomplishments and adventures include some of the most challenging environments and harshest conditions on land and by sea. His athletic pursuits and innovative, evidence-based initiatives span from American Samoa, to Poland, to the Jersey Shore and provide opportunities to empower, as well as positively impact individual and community behavior towards our shared aquatic environments.

He currently works with NOAA National Weather Service as their coastal safety, science and conservation advisor while also working on groundbreaking, inclusive surf lifesaving sports programs for para-athletes. His current project with NOAA, “Wave Safe with Bruckner Chase” is a multimedia campaign that teaches the philosophy, mindset and actions that can protect any person, on any shore. He loves working in Australia and American Samoa and is always eager to get back to these places he considers “second homes”. Join Bruckner in protecting our oceans, and their inhabitants, and learn more at bcoceanpositive.org.