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Ocean Safety Tips

Adrienne Vernon

• Learn how to swim well. Take swimming lessons, and practice swimming at your local community center. Swimming in the ocean is much safer if you’re a strong swimmer.
• Never swim alone. Bring a friend or parent along to swim with you.
• Don’t swim into the current. When you’re trying to get back to shore, don’t swim straight into the current, because it’ll  only pull you farther out into the water. Instead, swim diagonally toward the shore.
• Check the surf conditions. If the tide is too strong, don’t swim. Consider the posted conditions before you venture into the water.
• Obey the rules and the lifeguard. Many beaches have rules visibly posted.  Follow them. The rules and lifeguard are there for your safety.

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Going Under!

by Adrienne Vernon

Spring break wasn’t all fun and games.

The sun shone brightly on our last day of spring break in Miami. Throwing our towels on the sand, Danny, Shane, and I sat down, preparing to brave the tide at the beach.
“You’d better put some sunscreen on or you’re going to fry,” I joked to Shane. He scowled and snatched the bottle out of my hand.
“If you guys would hurry up with that, we could get in the water where the action is,” Danny remarked, tapping his foot. Moments later the three of us stood by the shore, eyeing the water.
I cautiously stuck my toe in the water and quickly jerked it back out. “It’s so cold!” I whined.
“Don’t be such a girl,” Shane teased as he and Danny dragged me into the ocean. “See, it’s not so bad.”
I admitted defeat and trailed along, mumbling about the filth on the ocean bottom. When the water rippled high on our chests, Danny and I looked back to see how far we were from shore. The people on the beach looked like little toy dolls. I glanced at Danny. I saw worry creeping into his eyes.
“We’re pretty far out here. Maybe we should head back,” I urged.
As we waited for Shane, the ocean’s swells pushed our feet off the murky bottom ever so gently. By the time he reached us, the water was just under our chins. No problem, I thought to myself. We’ll just swim a little ways, and we’ll be able to walk again.
We plowed our way through the water toward the shore for about a minute. We lowered our feet, expecting to feel the mushy ocean bottom on our soles. But my feet dangled well above the ocean floor. Shocked, I gasped and tilted my head up, trying to keep the salty water out of my mouth. Again I looked toward the shore. The people seemed farther away than ever.
Suddenly a hand clutched my shoulder. I spun left in time to see Shane’s panic-stricken face, just before his weight forced my head underwater. Water rushed into my mouth as I fought my way back to the surface for air. Fear enveloped me. I’d heard countless stories of kids going to the beach or lake, swimming out too far, then drowning.
“Come on, guys. Stop playing!” Danny’s tired voice shook. A coughing spasm was all I could muster in reply as Shane, still attached to my shoulder, yelled, “I’m not playing! I really can’t swim well!”
Guessing that we’d both drown if he repeatedly dragged me underwater, fear made me grab Shane’s hand and push him away from me.
“Float!” I yelled, knowing that we needed to regain some energy if we were going to make it back to shore. We all flipped on our backs to float, but the water kept pulling us farther away from shore. My muscles ached, and my throat felt sore from coughing up salt water, yet we had to do something or we’d end up in the middle of the Atlantic.
Thoughts ran wild in my head. This must be a dream! How are we going to make it out of here? What if we die? God, please save us! I suddenly remembered what my mom, who’d grown up in Florida, had told me countless times. I yelled to Shane and Danny, “We have to swim diagonally toward the shore or the tide will pull us out even farther!”
With our last burst of energy, we fought our way diagonally against the tide. Within a few minutes our feet found the ocean floor. We dragged ourselves the remainder of the way to the beach and collapsed on our towels.
Safe and sound
As I lay exhausted in the sun, thanking God for saving us, I thought about the similarity between the ocean tide and sin. You swim along perfectly content with life. Even though you’re up to your neck in sin, everything appears to be under control.
Before you realize it, you’re in over your head, fighting just to stay alive. But the fight isn’t yours. Isaiah 45:22 says: “Turn to me and be saved.” Jesus is willing and able to keep you from drowning in sin.
Ideally, you should stay out of dangerous situations. As for us that day at the beach, if we hadn’t swum out so far, it would’ve been easier to get back to the shore, and the tide wouldn’t have been a big deal. In the same way, if you stay out of compromising situations in life, you won’t have to worry about fighting against them. Second Timothy 2:22 says you should “flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.”
Later that evening I called my parents to tell them about our little adventure. My parents were shocked and very thankful we were safe.
“I’m so glad you’re all right!” Relief flooded my dad’s voice. “Did you offer a prayer of thanksgiving?”
I smiled, thinking about our close call. “Definitely. I don’t think we would’ve gotten out of there without God’s help.”
Adrienne Vernon is a sophomore at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee. She is majoring in public relations, print journalism, and religious studies. In her free time she plays her guitar, writes stories, and spends time with her family and friends. Her home is in Adairsville, Georgia.

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