Dozens rescued after Cristobal's surf swept swimmers away - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Dozens rescued after Cristobal's surf swept swimmers off their feet

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Horseneck Beach in Westport, MA. (CNN photo) Horseneck Beach in Westport, MA. (CNN photo)
WESTPORT, MA (CNN/AP) -

Hurricane Cristobal churned up some big waves in the Atlantic and it swept swimmers off of their feet.

Lifeguards in Rhode Island had to rescue several swimmers. At Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly, they pulled several dozen to safety after they were dragged into deeper waters.

Another place they found dangerous currents was Horseneck Beach in Westport, MA.

On Thursday, the surf report showed swells of six to eight feet at a place known for wave height.

Officials there said there were no rescues there and that swimmers were restricted to knee-depth.

"Because once you go out past your waist, you're jumping over waves and that's when you can get sucked out," said Rachael Brown, a lifeguard. "It can pull you out faster than an Olympic swimmer can swim in."

For some, it was all about the waves. That included boogie-boarder Max Bethoney.

"I come here either way, but when you hear about waves coming, that's when everybody comes," he said. "Definitely. All the hardcore people."

Bethoney said he has witnessed nature's power.

"I've seen two people in one day get pulled out," Bethoney said. "They string all their life rafts together and then they send one person out to grab the person, and then they yank them back in."

In fact, Bethoney said he was almost one of those people eight years ago. He was caught in a rip.

"When I was 16 actually," he recalled. "Went swimming and I got sucked out. I panicked for a little bit and then I was like 'all right, I just need to calm down. I know what to do here.' And I kind of just caught my breath and swam diagonally like they tell you to do."

Bethoney said he had some words of wisdom.

"You're not going to get back in panicking. You can't go straight for the waves and try to fight them," he explained. "You've got to do it gradually."

The ordeal didn't keep him away for long.

"You've got to get back on the horse, as they say," Bethoney said.

Massachusetts officials said they'll continue to monitor the surf and decide whether the water restrictions should remain in place.

In Rhode Island, the high surf advisory was canceled by the National Weather Service on Friday.

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