It is an increasingly inevitable trait of human nature that when tragic events occur, there is an outcry for the government to Do Something.
Regarding this year's string of drownings at Clarks Hill Lake, the response should be: Don't.
This doesn't mean the community shouldn't be concerned after the unfortunate deaths of Serrmaster Dozier, 20, of Augusta; Olvin Interiano, 27, of Beech Island; or Edtwon Jackson, 22, of Thomson.
But the response emphatically should not be, as some have rashly suggested, posting lifeguards at Clarks Hill Lake.
Never mind the fact that the lake itself has a total shoreline as long as the Pacific coast of California. For this discussion, focus just on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-operated parks at West Dam and Lake Springs, the popular recreation areas where the recent drownings occurred.
Both sites are clearly labeled for visitors to swim at their own risk. And all three drowning victims were adults, not unsupervised children, so the swimmers died as a result of risks they took entirely on their own.
Any of these swimmers had the option of paying to swim in a public, lifeguard-protected pool; there are dozens in Columbia County, and Richmond County has several that are part of its park system.
Instead, these men weighed the freedom of swimming at Clarks Hill Lake against the risk - a reasonable equation, as thousands swim and play without incident every single day.
The deaths of Dozier, Interiano and Jackson are tragic. They provide an important opportunity to warn other swimmers to lessen their risks: use a "buddy" system, wear a life jacket, stay in known, designated swimming areas, avoid using alcohol while swimming.
But the knowledge that thousands of lake visitors swim safely also is ample reason to reject calls for more government-mandated adult supervision of lake swimmers.
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