It’s a quiet moment, perfectly captured by Spokesman Review photographer Jesse Tinsley.
A lone paddler swims on the Spokane River, clock tower and convention center lit by a setting sun.
Unless the scene is illegal and unsafe.
“It’s a great photo that shouldn’t be taken,” said Kacie Dietz, certified therapeutic recovery specialist at Spokane Parks and Recreation.
Initially, the paddler is in a closed section of the river near the dam.
According to Spokane Township Bylaws, “No person may intentionally enter, swim, dive, or swim in or on a pond in a park or the Spokane River at any point between the West Line, with or without a boat, raft, craft or other swimming device of the Street Bridge Division and the west line of Monroe Street Bridge. “
There is another problem with the scene. The man does not wear a personal swimming device and does not seem to have a signal device such as a whistle, which is also required by state law.
Outdoor recreation has grown in popularity over the past year and a half. Record heat this summer has continued the trend, said Andy Dunau, executive director of the Spokane River Forum.
“The parking spaces at the access points are overcrowded,” he said in an email. “Inexperienced people don’t understand that the river is cold, mainly because of the cold water that comes out of the aquifer. So jumping in can be a shock to the system. And since the currents are low, it’s bony … that is, rocks that you can hit your head on or get your feet caught in. “
Numerous drownings occurred throughout the northwest during the heat wave, including a man in the Coeur d’Alene River. Not all deaths are due to poor paddling preparation, but there is a common denominator.
“The solution is to wear a life jacket,” said Dunau. “People who wear you live. Even if you mistakenly think that you are a good swimmer and don’t need one, it is important to set a good example to others. No different than putting on a seat belt. “
Dietz recommends new paddlers to attend guided programs that provide the necessary equipment and guidance.
“You really just show up and have fun,” she said. “You don’t have to think about commuting and all that.”