Swim to shore


To the Editor:

I arrived at the West Chop overlook Sunday late afternoon to enjoy the view and my book. A sailboat was heading east at a speedy pace, and one heading west was making slow progress. The along-shore current was strong. I heard multiple teen voices from below, and looked to see four swimmers off the raft and trying to get back. There is a long pier there, and at the end a swimming landing and a ways away a raft, with buoyed ropes attached to the raft and pier.

But the swimmers were off to the east. They were trying to swim against the current and barely holding their ground. Others were on the raft, seemingly unconcerned, but one young man jumped in with a buoyancy device and swam quickly to the group, giving the device to the smaller child. He then started swimming back to the raft with one of the three. They were making an inch or two per stroke. Meanwhile the other two were falling farther back, still trying to swim against the current, clearly a losing situation. Eventual exhaustion was certain.

I cupped my hands to my mouth and shouted as loud as an 88-year-old can shout, “Swim to shore.” No response from any of the many persons in the water and raft and pier. I kept shouting time after time, and finally one of the two showed he heard me and they turned and headed for the shore. Swimming easily and dog-paddling, they made it with no trouble.

Meanwhile, the stronger two were still struggling to get back to the raft, an inch at a time. They had enough energy to finally grab one of the ropes off the raft, where they stayed and rested. They still had to make it from the raft back to the pier.

I am writing this with the hope that a parent or teen from West Chop will cut this letter out and post it on their bulletin board, so that all swimmers will be told that, instead of swimming into a strong along-shore current: Swim to shore!

Karl Riley

West Tisbury