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Woman drowns while trying to rescue child at Chiba beach

66 Comments

A woman drowned after she tried to rescue a child in difficulties at Kujukuri Beach in Chiba Prefecture on Sunday afternoon.

According to police, seven children were playing together on the beach just after 12:30 when one of them, 11-year-old Rina Miyagi, slipped into an area of deep water. Tomoyo Koike, 41, was at the beach with her partner and his daughter when she saw the girl and attempted to rescue her but she got into difficulties herself and disappeared beneath the surface.

The woman's partner searched for her, but by the time he found her, she was already dead. A nearby surfer rescued Miyagi. The girl was taken to hospital unconscious but is in a stable condition, police said.

The beach in question opens officially on July 1. Swimming was prohibited Sunday due to rip currents.

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so sad for this woman, she wanted to help to another human being and was brave. I wonder about the parents of these 7 cvhildren, nobody interfered?

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adult supervision is almost zero compared to the west. They have less to worry about it in many cases, but in turn things like this happen. I was at the beach just yesterday. A family was down on the beach about 100 meters away. Their baby was just sleeping in the stroller by the car. I could have stolen that baby 10 times over before the parents even noticed or had time to run to the car. They were so far away they wouldn't have even gotten the first number on my license plate.

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I heard from the news, on tv, it's some type of club or organization ( like summer camp ). They brought these kids to the beach knowing fully well the area was closed because of rip tides.

The parents weren't there!!'

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I'm so overwhelmed with sadness and despair...what a brave soul,..please REST IN PEACE.

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I saw that too Whiskeysour - This "club" should be investigated... regardless, where were the supervisors or leaders? In my experience those in charge of these camps or groups are much more responsible in general than the parents of the kids.

Its sad for this lady, she tried to help, but perhaps she couldn't swim well herself. where I come from (an area which is surrounded by sea) learning to swim is a mandatory elementary school requirement.

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But I must agree with the majority of posters here..I blame the tragic loss of this life to the irresponsability and lack of care and common sense, typical on many people in here.

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Too many people bother learning to swim...

before they learn how to float or tread water.

This was not an undertow, it was a rip. I think somebody died from a long string of bad decisions, not because the area is inherently dangerous. I was not there, of course, but if someone cannot tread water or float for half an hour, deep water is always a threat. In a way, leading kids to believe that they are safe just because they can swim 25 or 100 meters is a lie.

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Swimming was prohibited Sunday due to rip currents.

So, why were the kids in the water and who was responsible for supervising them? Kudos to the lady for trying to help the kid, but obviously she should have raised an alarm instead of doing something quite stupid resulting in her death. A sad truth.

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RIP brave lady! You're a hero, you lost your life trying to save a child. Brave!

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Klein2 said: This was not an undertow, it was a rip.

True, but it may have been an undertow that pulled the little girl into the rip in the first place. I suspect the kids were wading at the edge of the water, everyone thinking that was ok as long as they were not technically swimming. I wonder if everyone involved figured out that its not okay?

Most people don't even know what a rip current is. I learned from getting my scuba license, but even so, I had to look it up again to make sure I had it right. People just don't understand the dangers the ocean presents. They seem to think its just a big swimming pool.

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Wow, this made me pause and give thought to this brave woman. She did an unselfish act and paid the ultimate price. The world lost another member of a dying breed.........she got involved. What a brave soul.

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If you're caught in a riptide, there are two ways to escape it:

swim parallel to the shore away from the riptide channel and you should be able to find a spot where you can swim back to shore; riptide channels are usually pretty narrow. float on your back and ride the current out until it is spent, then move away from the riptide channel and swim back to shore. The problem with this is that riptides can sometimes reach quite far out.

Learn to swim. Teach your kids.

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MoBass4u at 09:51 AM JST - 14th June

Wow, this made me pause and give thought to this brave woman. She did an unselfish act and paid the ultimate price. The world lost another member of a dying breed.........she got involved. What a brave soul.

Exactly!

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Thank god, the child survived. At lease this brave women didn't die in vein. RIP!

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Note to self - don`t let my kids go on a summer camp trip here.

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I wonder, why that male partner of women didn't go to rescue that child instead of her !

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Rina's parents own everything to Mrs Koike and the surfer dude. Never mess with the ocean!

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RIP brave woman! Stupid club taking children to a beach with rip currents!

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"True, but it may have been an undertow that pulled the little girl into the rip in the first place."

There is no mention in the article of an undertow. I do not know of a beach anywhere that allows swimming in areas with undertows.

Xeno23. I can think of other ways. For instance, why float on our back? You could tread water while waving for help, or do a "dead-man float." I have seen suggestions of swimming AWAY from the beach becuase it will get you to weaker current areas faster than if you just hang out and wait. I think what needs to be said is that the one thing you DON'T do is what people usually do... panic and swim until exhaustion.

People are taught to slap and fight the water, waves, and currents. They are taught inefficient strokes in school that look dramatic, but which are useful for competitive purposes only. People should be taught to bob and float and be IN the water. It is a much more useful skill. See, Nisegaijin even says "Never mess with the ocean." People are taught to fear it, not understand it. It is the wrong lesson, because sometimes the ocean messes with you.

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If you're caught in a riptide, there are two ways to escape it: 1. swim parallel to the shore away from the riptide channel and you should be able to find a spot where you can swim back to shore; riptide channels are usually pretty narrow. 2. float on your back and ride the current out until it is spent, then move away from the riptide channel and swim back to shore. The problem with this is that riptides can sometimes reach quite far out.

Learn to swim. Teach your kids.

we each have our natural level of buoyancy. And then, there are those who don't float at all

putting your life on the line to save another is a brave act

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Kujukuri is very well known to have riptides. A friend once got caught in one and she relaxed, it took her out to sea and dropped her about 100 metres further down the beach from where she was picked up.

I guess the simple way to deal with a rip is to relax and not panic. But that is easier said than done.

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What a sad news. I came across many J people who can't swim. I wonder why? there're so many swimming facilities and coaches here. At the gym only the oba-chans and ojichans are learning to swim...lol.

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If there were kids playing on an unsupervised beach that was closed due to rip currents, then somebody messed up somewhere.

God bless this brave woman. I hope the kid she saved never forgets her.

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Even if the beach were 'closed', I'm certain that there were no signs to warn potential swimmers. And of course no life guards.

Indeed there were rips, currents and undertows yesterday along that strip. Qualified supervision, ie; an adult with at least basic swimming and CPR skills, would have prevented this tragic self-sacrifice.

R.I.P.

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The public seriously over estimates the effectiveness of CPR.

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I bet my own life that the idiots that took this lady out, just laid her there on the sand and went in circles not knowing what to do...meanwhile they wasted the little time she may had left and did not perform CPR on her, a very typical behavior in this backward country. CPR seems to be unknown here for some reason?? Do they ever defribilliate someone by the way? How come a large number of people die while on the ambulance? I know they move like snails, but this is ridiculous...God save me!

I know that somewhere else, people would've bust their asses trying to resurrect this brave angel that passed away.

Rest in Peace!

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I guess you were there and saw the whole thing happen.

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Personally to me Kujukuri isnt that dangerous a beach. The depth is gradual, waves are fuller, rips run along the beach. A beach break.I have no idea what unsupervised beach means? Unsupervised kids would be my motion. Ive seen too much complacency of parents on the beaches of recent. Especially when you arent local to the area, and try to have kids at the same level of adaption as local kids. Perhaps having the season of swimming longer, whereby the beach is open is what is really needed, at this point in time. Who can close a beach anyway? But government funds providing lifesavers year round-yes year round, when the govt stepped in and chose to be obliging to(some of) the people- seeing that the government pulled all the beach houses down only to take the parking fees for themselves, only seems the fair thing?

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Tragic accident. Brave woman. Many opinions here on how this "could have" been prevented.

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RIP to a very brave caring person. Im glad to know people like you exist.

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"we each have our natural level of buoyancy. And then, there are those who don't float at all"

Try this next time you go swimming. It is a dead-man's float, but women can do it too. Take a deep breath, put your face in the water, and let your arms and legs hang down. Relax. Slowly exhale. When you need a breath, give a slight kick, clap your hands or slowly stroke. Raise your head. Inhale. Relax. Repeat about 30-60 times per hour.

If you fight the water, you will not float. If you try to keep your head out of the water, you will not float. The obvious answer is to put your head in the water and survive. Surrender. Embrace the water and your fear and you shall live, keep your head above water and you will exhaust yourself.

A human with full lungs and head in the water floats. If a person relaxes in reasonably warm water (might be a factor here), then this can keep you alive for hours, if not days.

I am guessing that an average sixth grader can maintain a freestyle stroke for ....for what, 5 minutes? Tread water for 30 minutes if that? The only practical limits to a dead-man's float are hypothermia and dehydration. It uses less energy than standing in a subway car.

Anyway, probably only boy scouts learn it these days. It is a lifesaver. Good luck.

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I'm certain that there were no signs to warn potential swimmers.

I'm certain that on the news last night there were red flags on the beach.

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Klein2

Very interesting. I'm a terrible swimmer but I'll try and remember that should I ever come into difficulty.

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Im also certain that they dont open their beaches, with flags AND lifesavers as much as people are bathing/swimming there.

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I agree with Klein. Not enough emphasis on treading and floating. Also, people tend to panic in deep water.

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Nessie where does it say deep water? The one thing with Kujukuri is will often have a sand bank. If the tides are high and you are close to the river mouths it is also dangerous. Emphasis where by the way? You implementing ocean safety in the education system there now? People panic when drowning, even while they are being saved; a lifesaver, some jobs for real people and not just some red cloth. WHile you are at it add in some boards and better public toilets. Cough up the cash there.

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For an island nation I'm shocked how poorly the Japanese swim, and how many people simply don't know how to swim.

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Klein2 at 02:01 PM JST - 14th June

"we each have our natural level of buoyancy. And then, there are those who don't float at all"

Try this next time you go swimming. It is a dead-man's float, but women can do it too. Take a deep breath, put your face in the water, and let your arms and legs hang down. Relax. Slowly exhale. When you need a breath, give a slight kick, clap your hands or slowly stroke. Raise your head. Inhale. Relax. Repeat about 30-60 times per hour.

If you fight the water, you will not float. If you try to keep your head out of the water, you will not float. The obvious answer is to put your head in the water and survive. Surrender. Embrace the water and your fear and you shall live, keep your head above water and you will exhaust yourself.

A human with full lungs and head in the water floats. If a person relaxes in reasonably warm water (might be a factor here), then this can keep you alive for hours, if not days.

I am guessing that an average sixth grader can maintain a freestyle stroke for ....for what, 5 minutes? Tread water for 30 minutes if that? The only practical limits to a dead-man's float are hypothermia and dehydration. It uses less energy than standing in a subway car.

Anyway, probably only boy scouts learn it these days. It is a lifesaver. Good luck.

Thank You for this, excellent post indeed.

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I'm thinking since they closed the beach due to this "rip currents" thing. that the life guards or patrol personnel decided it was a day off. That is the whole point of their job is to make sure people who are idiots or just didn't know stay out of the water. Prolly were not any signs or anything to warn people. Plus the morons at the club facility that just dropped the kids off and left. This society is ridiculous on how they supervise kids. It seems as soon as the child is able to walk, they are fine to be on their own. Because of all these utterly dumb mistakes,this brave woman lost her life, if not the child would of.

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So what do you know Kyoko? Reiterating floating techniques for the beachline is gonna get ya a mouth full of water. How about teaching that there is a rhythm to the waves and it is better to go under a broken wave. That is most likely where the incident occurred. The sand bank. It seems like it is deep and the waves curl up and break; for a 6th grader, scary, and an old lady, who probably doesnt know much about ocean safety either (how local was she?), you can swallow a lot of water.

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RIP, Ms. Koike. You were incredibly brave to do what you did.

Now... why on earth weren't these children being supervised?!

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This woman is truly a hero - I hope the parents of the child will always honour her sacrifice. To be honest, I don't see much in the way of surf safety awareness in Japan - unlike, say, Australia or the States. I would propose that Japanese kids under 16 probably should be barred from swimming in surf beaches in Japan - these kids and parents are just not equipped to deal with conditions that can even drown champion adult surf-swimmers.

For an island nation I'm shocked how poorly the Japanese swim, and how many people simply don't know how to swim.

I dunno Frungy - I've met some Japanese who have obtained a "swimming safety licence" or some such nonsense which required a rigorous multiple-choice paper test! Therefore they must be "good swimmers"! In seriousness, you are spot on - I have been swimming at pools here for 6 years and only seen literally a handful (almost always women) who have strong swimming techniques. The rest are an accident waiting to happen in the surf...

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Illsayit,

From the article:

" . . . 11-year-old Rina Miyagi, slipped into an area of deep water."

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Dubya,

"Partner????? The article does not say what kind of business they are in."

Someone here in Japan has developed a relatively recent penchant for translating "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" as "partner." Political correctness gone amuck?

Don't know when it started or why, but you're right; It stands out like a sore thumb when you read it.

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How many times a week did you go the pool? Not much I bet. What time? Several pools was it? Crap. There are good swimmers here. Drown champion adult surf-swimmers, partner, would seem the rumours of that area get the better of themselves?As for barring all kids up to 16? You have got to be Australian? Just dictate the situation.

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How many times a week did you go the pool? Not much I bet. What time? Several pools was it? Crap.

Wow - someone is an angry ant! Try 5 times a week for 6 years in Japan, my friend. And yes - I am an excellent swimmer - and I just don't see many strong swimmers here. The kids here do not have swim/surf safety hammered into them, which is very surprising for a nation of islands.

Drown champion adult surf-swimmers, partner, would seem the rumours of that area get the better of themselves?

You may need to re-write that so we can all understand it, buddy!

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Kudos to the woman. I really gotta wonder about the reaction time of whoever was supposedly watching over these kids. While a woman and a surfer are out there trying to save this kid's life, what the heck were the camp supervisors doing?

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I shall also add that once I was down by a river and there were 3 kids playing, maybe 4 to 6 years old, and not a parent or adult in sight...

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Last paragraph in article states the beach has not been opened to the public.

The beach in question opens officially on July 1. Swimming was prohibited Sunday due to rip currents.

So I doubt life-guards, etc would have been posted.

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Frungy, actually most Japanese schools teach kids how to swim from when they are in Elementary. Many parents send them to swimming school too. Unfortunately, even after lessons some are just not cut out to be lifeguards. I went to a small, private school in America and it did not have a pool. I have never had swimming lessons. I can "swim" about 50 meters and that's it. That's why I stay away from water. Humans are made to live on land.

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Agreed Japanese swimming ed(joke IMO) is way poorer than my countries.

We had to swim up to 1km(timed) Jump from 1 & 3mtr boards(different dives) higher was optional, dive to retrieve objects from 4~6 meters depth(3 objects per dive), distance dives, etc.

Another test also included us and a partner in full clothing doing a 200m rescue swim carrying/pulling the partner.

Our schools don't have pools so we use the public olympic sided indoor-pool(goverment), we had 2hrs of swimming/week.

Hence hearing about a child drowning is not common back home.

My country is very strict about sports education and we get graded like in all other subjects.

Taking my son once a week to my local pool and he can swim well.

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Koikesan, You are a hero. My prayers for your child.

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Klein2 said: There is no mention in the article of an undertow. I do not know of a beach anywhere that allows swimming in areas with undertows.

Undertows can and do happen on every beach. Its a natural wave action and it can form narrow rip currents as well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Undertow_(wave_action)

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Don't quote me, but, to all you people saying Japanese don't learn to tread water, but only to swim, I seem to remember that when I taught at elementary school kids were tested on how long they could tread water both without hands and without feet. But I bet none of you graduated from a Japanese elementary school so none of you should be so sure either. And asking one Japanese person is no test either. I don't remember a lot from elementary school either.

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Mistwizard.

Pls, exclude people like me who have/had kids in japanese primary schools from your comment. Guess quiet a few like me here too.

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This is an unfortunate and tragic accident. Rip current warnings were in place but children don't always pay attention to warnings. Actually, adults don't pay attention to safety warnings either. I don't know exactly what happened in this particular case but generally speaking, rip currents are usually to fast for even the best swimmers to swim against (up stream?). Swimmers caught in a rip current should swim parallel to the shore line until they exit the current and then swim to shore.

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Kujukuri can have extremely strong currents and eddies, especially on high tides. I live nearby and very often swim in there (not yesterday but last week) and sometimes the current fells like a strong river parallel to the beach - not for the beginner swimmer...

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If all your swimming instruction is in the local pool/water park, then you're going to miss out on important differences between "enclosed" swimming and ocean swimming. Undertow/Riptides don't happen on lakes and in pools.

While it is easy to say "swim parallel to the beach until you get out of the riptide", it's harder to remember that saying when you've halfway exhausted yourself before you even realize you're IN a riptide.

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People need to learn to swim... Even as a child, I was having fun with rip currents and at any moment I knew how to rest on top of the water. It took mere minutes to teach me how rip currents work and how to get out of them whenever I wanted.

With such knowledge, there is no reason to panic and this tragedy could have been avoided.

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The one thing Japan needs to do is have life guards at the beach. So many lives get saved here in CA thanks to life guards, it's worth it.

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Mistwizard,

"Undertows can and do happen on every beach. Its a natural wave action and it can form narrow rip currents as well."

Yes, I make undertows in my bathtub too, every time I get out. It is a natural action. But they are weak and the rip tides are narrow too. I recall one beach in Okinawa where I was warned of undertows. They were far beyond a roped off designated swimming area. I assume that if there are undertows strong enough to be dangerous (suck a kid underwater for 30 seconds), that they are outside of designated swim areas, which the article says this was. The article says nothing about undertows of any kind, and it would, wouldn't it? A public swimming beach would not be near strong undertows, would it? Just reasoning from the information in the story, I have a hard time blaming the beach or the ocean here, or even the public officials managing the beach.

I know of two Japanese public elementary schools where treading and floating are not taught or tested at all at any grade level. This is today: now. I assume that they teach to the national curriculum, so I guess it is not tested nationally. I am reasonably sure that it has not been tested at these schools for the last 10 years, and I know it has not been tested or taught at these schools for the last 6 years. I have tried to call up the MEXT curriculum on this, but can't seem to find it.

Ebisen: You know the area. The designated swimming beaches are quite long and the area around Kayada, Horikawa, Odare is all pretty even and sandy. You can easily walk 40-50 meters from shore. Down near Sakuda, it gets rocky and broken, as it does up near Choshi. I have a hard time believing that, with 10 km or so of sandy beach, that they would choose a rocky current swept area to the north or south. Where did you feel those strong currents?

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For an island country, I am amazed at the number of non-swmmers and poor swimmers. Anyone that swims well knows how to deal with a rip. Very easy.

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Mistwizard - Swimming education has changed A LOT in the last decade or so. I have my child in a japanese elementary school and they are basically just having fun in the pool, no one is actually teaching them how to swim.

Also, swimming class is only twice a week and over 100 kids (3 classes) take the "class" all together. It's not like each class gets 45 minutes or anything like that.

I recall it used to be more of a "swimming ed" but now it's different.

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Klein2 - I swim just in the middle of Kujukuri, where the Sotobo-line would touch the beach if it wouldn't curve towards South. It is a very nice black sand area - that's right one could easily walk 50-70 meters into the sea with no problems but if the wind is in the right direction, and on high tides you can find very strong currents even if from the shore everything looks nice.

It must be the gulf shape of the outside of the Boso peninsula, causing the water to "funnel" into Kujukuri beach

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And most that beach is the same. Exceptions are the river mouths, and especially where the boats are coming in. Whether this is accidental or whatnot, the lack of lifesavers is very obvious. The private land formed some sort of safety net, but now that it has become public land, there is less safety for the water area, and more people. Can we please get off the who can swim and swimming techniques conversation. It is pointless. Burakmindes, I would suggest even just checking the average times for kids(squad) swimming events. They are every month. Check the numbers of how many are actually swimming AND doing those times. And please I know that swimming in a pool is different to the beach. This does not need to be implemented in the school system, obviously not all schools have the same geopgraphics.

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For 'Zenny 11': I was astonished by your comments. 200m rescue swim pulling a partner. That's incredible. What country are you originally from? I'm original from Brazil, and there's no such swimming, at least in the public schools, as far as I know.

Moderator: Stay on topic please. Posts that do not refer to the story will be removed.

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