Great Lakes drowning incidents up

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Since the beginning of the year, authorities say 23 people have drowned in the Great Lakes. That's up one from this time last year.

In the latest incident, a 5-year-old boy drowned in Lake Michigan at Covert Township Park.

Experts say most drownings happen because swimmers are overconfident and underestimate the lake's power. They say strong swimmers in pools may find themselves fighting for their lives in the Great Lakes, especially if rip currents are present.

"Rip currents go from near the shoreline going offshore," says Notre Dame Engineering and Geology Assistant Professor Andrew Kennedy. "These are usually the most dangerous currents because a person gets caught in them, they start going offshore and they start panicking, they see the shore getting further and further away. They start swimming towards the shore and they're swimming against the current. These are so strong usually that people just can't swim against them, they get tired and they have problems."

Kennedy says if people do get caught in rip currents, they should resist their bodies' natural instinct to swim towards the shore. Instead, he says to swim sideways until out of the current, then head back to the beach.

He says many drowning deaths could be prevented if people check the conditions of the lake before they start swimming and exercise more caution.