NewsPinellas County


Clearwater officials close swimming at Pier 60 Wednesday, urge people to stay out of water

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Posted at 4:34 PM, Jul 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-07 18:27:59-04

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Hazardous wind conditions along our coastal areas forced local law enforcement and fire officials to issue blunt warnings about swimming at some of our Tampa Bay area beaches.

Clearwater Police Department and Clearwater Fire Rescue placed red "no swim" flags up and down the beach, warning people it’s best to stay out of the water on Wednesday.

They also placed double red flags near Pier 60, warning people that swimming is closed in that area.

They closed swimming near Pier 60 due to a strong longshore current in the Gulf of Mexico, which means the current was moving parallel to shore. The danger with a longshore current is that if you’re out on the water, especially near the pier or other structures, it could sweep you up and push you right into something like that.

“A lot of people aren’t used to being out in these conditions, they overestimate their abilities, they get themselves in trouble, and a lot of times they don’t swim near lifeguards,” said Patrick Brafford, Chief Lifeguard with Clearwater Fire Rescue.

Patrick Brafford and the fire rescue team conducted several rescues Wednesday, pulling struggling swimmers out of the water because, despite warnings, people were out there. Luckily, however, a lot of them stayed closer to shore.

“I don’t want the current to take me under. They got too many rip currents that can take me underwater. I know enough, I’ve been in Florida long enough to know better,” said Albert Brittain, a Floridian who drove to Clearwater Beach from Winter Haven.

Lifeguards spent much of the day educating people on the reasons the water wasn’t safe, because, for visitors, they don’t always know.

“We don’t feel safe inside, far on the beach, but we are going to play nearby the beach, and we are not going into the water,” said Mohit Shukla, a visitor from Georgia.

The visitors just hope Thursday is a little better.