LAKE TAPPS, BONNEY LAKE — Dylan Sikorski loves Lake Tapps and he knows the danger because he attended a program at his school sponsored by the Bonney Lake Police Department and the Swim Safe Coalition.
“If you get super cold in the water you’re probably getting hypothermia cause it’s glacier water,” student Dylan Sikorski said.
A little information goes a long way and Dylan’s mother is thankful for the program.
“I was actually there when they did the program at the middle school levels so I think it’s very helpful, keeps the kids aware that they’re not invincible,” Dylan’s mother Gayle Sikorski said.
As Dylan said Lake Tapps is a glacier fed lake and the water can be deceptively cold; cold enough to drain the body of energy in just a matter of minutes.
There are no lifeguards at the lake but the police wanted to do something to save lives the Swim Safe Coalition was born.
“The message is you can swim but you need to be safe. Wear your life vest when you need to. Check the water temperature, swim with a buddy and know your limits,” Bonney Lake police Sergeant Ryan Boyle said.
So far more than seven thousand students have attended the program and the plan is to expand it next year.
“I think the awareness is preventing a lot of these deaths from occurring,” Tina Lombard said.
Lombard knows the danger all too well.
Sadly her 17 year old son, Robert Harris, drowned in Lake Tapps two years ago.
Since then she has worked tirelessly to improve safety at the lake.
She calls the program, a good start.
“There are still things that need to be done. I think they still need more life jackets out there. It would be nice to have lifeguards out there but I think awareness is a first step and I’m very encouraged there aren’t any more drownings this past year,” Lombard said.
To take this a step farther, the Swim Safe Coalition is seeking funding for a system of buoys that will transmit water temperature in real time to cell phones and other mobile devices so swimmers can be more aware of just how cold and dangerous this lake can be.
It is something that’s never been done before anywhere in the country.