Swimmer rescued in Thames River after hours in water

NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — It was at Mitchell College beach that the swimmer went into the water Wednesday night.

News8 is told she’s done this many times before but her family ended up calling police because she didn’t return home for hours.

It’s believed the twenty year old woman was in the water since about 8:00PM. Two and a half hours later New London police get the missing persons call.

Police and firefighters begin the search and soon Coast Guard crews are under way.

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“Time is the enemy when you have a person in the water,” says Coast Guard Petty officer Thomas Alford.

Conditions were calm and there was a bright moon but there were challenges.

“Of course trying to find such a small object in such a large area and most of her body anyways is going to be under water,” says Petty Officer Max Rozier.

“The water temp was sixty degrees last night,” says Alford. “It may seem warm outside but that water temp still could get you.”

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The swimmer was expected to head towards the small islands off of New London but as one coast guardsman predicted the tide pushed her way out near New London Ledge Light which sits at the mouth of the Thames River where it meets Long Island Sound.

“Once we heard the scream I just knelt down and grabbed her up,” explains Alford.

Tired and cold but otherwise okay. The coordinated effort with local police and firefighters from New London and surrounding towns led to the successful search which ended after midnight.

“It was a sense of relief it was,” says Alford.

“Been kind of a tough week in Long Island Sound so to have that win it really picked up the spirits around the station too,” says Rozier.

The search also served as a lesson for swimmers that temperature and tide could push them beyond their limits.

“Things could turn for the worse pretty quickly,” says Alford.

Fortunately this swimmer was wearing a wet suit. Without it she would have been colder and more tired a lot more quickly.



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