Thrown Overboard, Swim Teacher Learns His Own Lesson

BAYPORT, N.Y. (AP) -

A swimming instructor who got thrown overboard off Long Island says he followed his own lessons after he got stranded.

“It’s interesting to actually practice what I preach” — staying calm and using energy-conserving strokes in such an emergency, Justin Underwood said after the mishap Friday.

It happened while Underwood, a 21-year-old University of Delaware student, was boating to his summer job as a lifeguard and swim teacher. Amid a rainstorm, his powerboat hit a wave while he’d momentarily taken his hand off the steering wheel to consult his cellphone’s compass, and he slipped overboard. The boat kept going, leaving him with no life jacket.

“The first minute, I was pretty angry at myself,” he said. “Then I just focused.”

Estimating he was about 2 miles from shore, he started swimming in the roughly 80-degree water. An hour later, police got a call about an unmanned boat and started searching. Underwood was located a mile away, waving his red bathing suit as a flag.