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Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources News :
SEALS, Olympic gold medalist, top swimmers remind boaters “your lifejacket's got your back”

May 23, 2011

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources joins forces with the some of the world's most acclaimed swimmers in a series of radio spots to promote lifejacket usage during the 2011 summer recreational boating season. The unofficial start to the boating season begins Memorial Day weekend, May 28-30.

As boaters look forward to fun in the sun, they should remember this year's theme for National Safe Boating week on May 21 – 27: “Your lifejacket's got your back and the backing of the best swimmers anywhere.”

The department's division of law enforcement is reaching out to those who shrug off lifejackets because they view themselves as good swimmers. From junior swim champs to Special Forces in the U.S. Navy, in time of calamity, being good may not be good enough.

There were 14 fatalities on Kentucky waters in 2010, down sharply from the previous year's total of 22. Conservation officers patrolling rivers and lakes hope to see that downward trend continue. Blending fun with common sense is the key.

Kentucky law requires that a lifejacket be readily available for immediate use by all persons on a vessel. Of course, lifejackets work best when they are worn. Even conditioned swimmers can be challenged when thrown overboard by surprise. Love of the water is one thing weekend anglers and water skiers share with elite level swimmers along with a Kentucky connection.

To emphasize the safety message, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife recruited some top people in their profession to pass the word along.

Rachel Komisarz received gold and silver medals in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Along with being the first to lend her voice to this Kentucky initiative, she has been a Kentucky resident since 1995. Komisarz is currently an assistant swim coach for the University of Louisville.

Lt. Cmdr. Michael Naus (SEAL/Ret.) is a one-time resident of Lexington who returns to Kentucky routinely to mentor Navy special warfare and air rescue candidates. This area is regarded as the most physically demanding military training in existence. In that field is Petty Officer Luigi Caprio. This Aviation Search and Rescue Swimmer has aided victims worldwide and reminds boaters that accidents can occur without warning. Even on a fishing lake on a sunny afternoon, you may be called upon to do his job.

In Louisville, Lakeside Seahawk swim coach Mike DeBoor has led many world championship teams and appears on an announcement with one of his nationally ranked junior swimmers.

Whether these individuals are noted for their bravery in abject water and weather conditions or for their unmatched speed, they all enjoy water recreation in their spare time. Despite being incredibly gifted swimmers, they still wear lifejackets at work or while at play.

“As unlikely as you think it is that a boating accident would ever happen to you, the use of life jackets greatly increases your chances of surviving,” Kentucky's boating law administrator, Capt. Mike Fields, reminds boaters.

“A large majority of the people who die in accidents die as a result of drowning,” he continued.”Lifejackets are designed to keep your head above water. A lifejacket can save your life.”

Fields said the department is using radio public service announcements to reach boaters on the water or on their way to the boat ramp. “In summers past, we've used this theme that good swimmers still need lifejackets but we've turned it up about a hundred notches,” he noted. “Instead of hearing it from everyday people, they hear it from some of the most notable swimmers on Planet Earth.”

(Article Provided by: Capt. Mike Fields / Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife)