Lifeguard: Drowning doesn't look like drowning

A Folly Beach lifeguard keeps watch.
A Folly Beach lifeguard keeps watch.
A rescue is made on Folly Beach
A rescue is made on Folly Beach

FOLLY BEACH, SC (WCSC) - Lifeguard Travis Farnham has worked at Folly Beach for the past four years and said real-life drowning doesn't look like it does in the movies.

"They're not flailing their arms like most people would expect them to be," Farnham said.

He and two fellow lifeguards demonstrated what a swimmer in distress typically looks like.

"You can tell he's facing the shore and that's a sign this person wants to come in and can't do it on their own," Farnham said.

He said some signs to look for include someone who has his head low in the water with his mouth at water level.  Also, a swimmer who's not using his legs and is trying to roll over on his back could need help.

Another sign -- If a person looks like they're treading water or trying to climb an invisible ladder.

"That's just their natural instinct to act like they're getting above the water, climbing a ladder," Farnham said.

Lifeguards say drowning can happen even with lots of people around, and it takes just 20 to 60 seconds to submerge.

"It can happen really fast, especially if there's a rough current, rough water," Farnham said.

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