SHIP BOTTOM, N.J. (WPVI) -- The rough surf claimed three lives this weekend. There were also dozens of rescues up and down the coast. Lifeguards say a dip in the ocean is not worth risking your life.
Lt. John Skolnick of the Ship Bottom Beach Patrol on Long Beach Island says the weather has been absolutely beautiful, drawing lots of people to the beach during the off-season. Ship Bottom has guards still posted at selected beaches but most towns don't. And while the water is inviting, swimming right now is a real risk.
"The past week with Jose sitting out there for the week and now Maria slowly approaching it makes some very rough conditions, the riptides are terrible," Lt. Skolnick said.
And as the week goes on it's expected to get even worse.
"It can pull you out in a second. You get tired, you get scared and anything can happen," added Lt. Skolnick.
Vince Ferlise of Florence, New Jersey said, "I was in here yesterday, I got up to here. It just pulls your feet out and the top is knocking you down. It's just brutal out there it really is."
"I don't go in. I'm afraid to go in. It's too rough. I stay up here and watch the lifeguards," Nancy Ferlise of Florence New Jersey added.
Most at this guarded beach only went in ankle deep. We watched the lone man who went all the way in as he was pulled north by the undertow. The lifeguard quickly called him closer to shore.
Bob Carney of New City, New York said, "They're only here for another week and then what happens after that? People could drown when they are gone. I mean it is 80 degrees. It's pretty tough to say you can't go in the water."
"We always come and try to find a place where a lifeguard is, and I told them not to go out just stay right here," Jackie Rue of Medford Lakes, New Jersey said.
Lt. Skolnick says, "Stay out of the water if there's no guards. You could get swept away in a second if you lose your feet and it could be very dangerous."
And deadly, as it was this past weekend.
You may be tempted to take a dip, but if the lifeguards say the water is dangerous, you got to treat it that way.
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