Potomac River

Drownings in Rivers, Lakes a Concern as Pools Remain Closed

Many public pools are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic

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It may be tempting to take a dip in a river or lake during summer's sweltering heat as the coronavirus pandemic has shut down most public pools — but fire and rescue officials warn that such swims can be deadly.

Two people have drowned already this season in the Potomac River, authorities say.

"The water danger is there," said Pete Piringer, spokesman for Montgomery County Fire & EMS.

Piringer said it’s illegal to swim in lakes and rivers, such as the Potomac.

"People want to go swimming to cool off, but danger lurks in all those waters, particularly, the Potomac River. There's dangerous currents," he said.

A man who did not want to be identified told News4 he swims in the Potomac near Great Falls, even though he could face a fine of more than $200.

"It’s hot today. Why not?" he said. "I grew up in this area. I’ve known there to be a swimming spot up here my whole life."

Officials say it's possible for someone to drown in under 30 seconds.

"While swimming in lakes and murky water, it’s difficult to see if you go a foot or even less than that underwater. You can’t really see someone. There could be objects underwater you could strike you wouldn’t even know," lifeguard Carissa Forrey said.

"Drowning is not necessarily like you see n the movies. It's very silent, quiet. It can happen very quickly," Piringer said.

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