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The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system on the Earth's surface, home to a fragile fishery, and delicate shoreline beaches and dunes. They are also central to northern Michigan tourism, economies and our way of life.

Record number of drowning deaths in Great Lakes last year

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According to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, there were 118 drowning deaths in the Great Lakes last year; a record high for the past decade. This year follows a similar pattern, with 11 drowning deaths by the beginning of June. 

 

Dave Benjamin, executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, encourages swimmers to be aware of swimmer safety protocols. 

 

"If someone is struggling with water over their head, we want you to roll over on your back," he says. "Take your time, get your breathing under control."

 

The past decade has shown a general increase in the number of drowning deaths in the Great Lakes; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says rising water levels in the lakes account for some of the deaths.