AN EXPERIENCED outdoor swimmer who almost drowned as she cooled off in the sea has warned others about being careless in water.
After eight years of swimming in lakes close to her home in Wellington, New Zealand, Annie de Vree thought she would have no problem in the Irish sea.
But even speaking to residents in Blackpool about the water’s unusual under currents following her move to Bright Street, South Shore, last year, could not have prepared her for the unnerving experience.
Mrs de Vree, 51, had drank a glass of wine before she entered the water on May 26 after spending a day in the sunshine – and immediately got into difficulty.
She said: “The water wasn’t deep which is the amazing thing but when I couldn’t get my foot on the ground I started to be swirled around.
“It wasn’t that deep but it pulled me off my feet and that was that.
“Before I knew it the sea was dragging me around.
“I usually go swimming near to Waterloo Road which is fun, it’s just when you get towards the Piers you get in trouble.
“I did have a glass of wine before I went in which I don’t think had any bearing on the matter, but it wasn’t right for me to do that.”
The Gazette is urging people to think about their own safety at sea following the death of David Sagar, 17, of Lewtas Street, Blackpool. The former Bispham High School pupil died on March 30 when he fell off the sea wall and died on March 30.
Mrs de Vree, who says she could not fight the current once she lost her footing, eventually lost consciousness and was rescued by a man who waded into the sea.
She added: “I was in serious trouble until I was pulled out.
“I thought I was drowning and I couldn’t help myself in any way.
“There were some kids fairly close to me and I was signalling to them to get help and that’s the last thing I remember.”
Since 1985, 22 people have lost their lives in the sea off Blackpool and Mrs de Vree says people should use her story as a warning.
She added: “I wasn’t under for very long but it was very scary.
“I was lucky the beach was busy and someone recognised what was going on.”
A spokesman for HM Coastguard added: “If you swim in the sea, make sure it’s on a lifeguarded beach, stay within your depth and swim parallel to the shore.
“If you get caught in a strong current or rip tide try to stay as calm as you can, raise your hand and shout for help.”