Lakeside Tribute was created in 2021 by Jim Hill in response to the large number of drowning deaths in the Great Lakes but especially Lake Michigan. Jim was born in Decatur, Michigan which is a half hour east of Saint Joseph, Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. He has been active in water sports his whole life having started windsurfing in 1988. The site is completely funded, designed and maintained by Jim who also uses finances some of the work by paying freelancers for posting and graphics.
The goals of this web site are to:
- Memorialize the lives of people who drowned (especially in the Great Lakes),
- Provide a way for grieving family members and friends to connect with others who have endured these tragedies,
- Help to reduce drowning deaths in the Great Lakes by being an advocate for safety practices regarding safe swimming and boating.
Jim’s Experience: An Interesting Story about the Drowning Reflex
Jim has had his share of experience with the dangers of the Great Lakes including almost drowning in Lake Huron (read about that story) while windsurfing in large waves at Kettle Point in Canada. However, one story stands out as follows.
One sunny summer afternoon me and my wife Christy were visiting South Haven which is in southwest Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. I have frequently visit South Haven but especially on days when the wind was forecast to be above the level required for windsurfing. This data started out very calm so Christy and I donned our wetsuits to take a swim and to help keep us a bit warmer in the cool water at South Haven South Beach. Our wetsuits also provided just enough buoyancy to make us comfortable swimming in water over our heads. Even though we were both decent swimmers we appreciated the safety factor of having some flotation. As on most beaches in Lake Michigan there are a series of sandbars near the shore, with the first and second bars offering a place of rest between the areas of deeper water. We sawm out to the second bar and looked around at which time I saw a young teenager swimming towards the shore but with both of his hands extended up towards the sky as if he was waving at someone. I quickly realized that he was drowning in the deep water between the two bars as he got into the unexpectedly deeper area which was quite close to the shore. I alerted Christy and I quickly began swimming towards him and yelled “I am coming.” As I got closer the young man continued struggling but somehow inches his way closer to the safety of the shallow water on the first bar. Way back in college at Western Michigan University I had taken a swimming class which included some lifesaving instruction so I had a plan in mind on what I would do when I got to him. Just as I reached him he landed himself on the first bar and then stood up. The really interesting thing was that even though he had almost drowned he walked back to the beach without saying anything and then just laid down on his blanket next to his friend who was sleeping face down. I wonder if after his friend woke up if he said anything to him?
Since that day I have become much more aware of what is called the instinctive drowning response. You can learn more about that on this site: Instinctive Drowning Response – Welcome to National Coastwatch – Caister Station (weebly.com) The instinctive drowning response is usually silent as the victims don’t have the ability to scream but rather wave their hands above their head. Understanding this response can help bystanders to more quickly recognize a possible drowning event so that they can either call for help or proceed to rescue themselves so long as they are equipped with a personal flotation device (PFD). The latter point is important because in so many of these stories the victim is the one who swooped in to help rescue the struggling swimmer.
Important Insights from the Story:
- The whole incident was silent, except for my scream to the potential drowning victim. This young man never made a sound during the whole thing.
- Unless I had an understanding of the instinctive drowning response I would have never known that the young man was in distress.
Please Support our Other Sites:
Lakeside Tribute was founded and is fully funded by Jim Hill. At the present time he does not receive any advertising revenue or donations for the considerable expenses that go into maintaining the site. This is also the case for Jim’s other web sites including these:
Roadside Tribute.com: Registry for victims of automotive accidents where memorials crosses are placed at accident sites. Visit Roadside Tribute: Roadside Tribute: A Site to Remember
Christians for Christ Ministries: Provides Bible study materials for Roman Catholics by providing an analysis of the Sunday Mass readings every week. Viewers may subscribe to a weekly email which provides the study notes each Friday morning by email. Visit Christians for Christ: Welcome to Christians for Christ
Dr. Christy Hill. This web site supports the ministry of my wife Dr. Christy Hill who is a professor at Grace College and Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. Home | Dr. Christy Hill (christy-hill.com)