National Drowning Prevention Alliance
     “Lifesaver of the Year” Award 2012 & 2020
        “Community Lifesaver” Award 2016 & 2018

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88 GL Drownings in 2017; Mom advocates water safety


Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Dave Benjamin, Executive Director, 708-903-0166,
Bob Pratt, Executive Director of Education, 517-643-2553, 

88 Great Lakes Drownings in 2017;

625 Great Lakes Drownings since 2010 (+/-)

 Mom of drowning victim speaks out and helping

Schedule Water Safety Presentations for 2018 

GREAT LAKES, USA – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) announces its current drowning statistics. In 2017, the GLSRP tracked 88 Great Lakes drownings.  Overall since 2010, the GLSRP has tracked 625 Great Lakes drownings.  Full statistics here  (74 drownings in 2010; 87 in 2011; 101 in 2012, 67 in 2013, 54 in 2014, 55 in 2015, 99 in 2016, and 88 in 2017). [Note: * = (+/-) Awaiting 100% confirmation of drowning.]

“We must do better,” said Bob Pratt, GLSRP Executive Director. “Education, Engineering and Emergency Response are key.”

“There have been too many lives lost since 2010 on our beautiful Great Lakes,” said Melisa Zirkle, GLSRP Board Member. “And my son is one of them because we didn’t understand lake currents.”

“Knowledge is power, and I wish I had known drowning prevention four years, five months, and twenty days ago.”
Zirkle’s son, Jermaine, drowned in a Lake Erie structural current July 12, 2013. Jermaine knew how to swim. He was an athlete; strong and smart and happy.

“He didn’t even like going in the lake,” Zirkle added.  “But he did that day. He went in because he wanted to – that one time – and that was all it took.”

“I grew up on this lake, but I never had the knowledge to pass on to him about the currents. My parents both grew up along this lake. We just never knew.”

Zirkle now advocates water safety with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project and is assisting the GLSRP to perform water safety presentations in schools in Ohio. In 2015, she received the National Drowning Prevention Alliance “Lifesaver of the Year” award for her water safety advocacy, and in 2016 she received the “Superhero of the Year” award presented by the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium.

In addition to Zirkle’s work in Ohio, the GLSRP is currently scheduling Great Lakes Water Safety Presentations for all Great Lakes states. For more information or to schedule a presentation, contact Dave Benjamin at 708-903-0166 or


The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Inc. (GLSRP) is a nonprofit 501c3 corporation that is about saving lives. Nonprofit Tax ID Number: 45-5616079 


  1. Tracks the Great Lakes drowning statistics (625+ drownings since 2010)
  2. Performs “Great Lakes Water Safety” presentations and trainings (Over 485 in 7 of the 8 Great Lakes states since 2011)
  3. Works with family and friends of Great Lakes drowning victims to advocate water safety.
  4. Hosts Open Water Surf Lifeguard Training and First Responder In-service Training

Mission: To eradicate drownings by being the leader of Great Lakes water safety by providing training, public preparedness, and public awareness.

Vision: Everyone in the Great Lakes region, nationwide and worldwide, is knowledgeable, engaged and proactive in water safety with an emphasis on the Great Lakes region.


  1. WGN Chicago’s Very Own segment, “Man makes water safety education his life’s passion”
  2. Dave Benjamin’s drowning accident and ‘Because I said I would’ water safety promise video
  3. John & Kathy Kocher’s “Gentle Giant” ‘Because I said I would promise video.

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Follow GLSRP on Twitter @ripcurrentsafeT