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Duluth Police and Army Corps of Engineers Warn Duluth Shipping Canal Not For Swimming or Diving

Nick Cooper – TSM Duluth

A recent viral trend called the “Cold Water Challenge” has inspired individuals around the country to take a dip in icy spring lakes for good causes, such as cancer research. While intentions may be good, officials warn against taking part in the activity, especially in Duluth’s shipping canal.

The trend has friends challenging each other on social media to take a dip in a frigidly cold bodies of water as a means by which to show support, awareness, and raise funds for causes like cancer research. Officials warn that unlike sanctioned events such as the one held in Duluth each February for Special Olympics of Minnesota, there are no rescue teams or medical personnel on site. Water temperatures in local bodies of water are just above freezing, which can lead to shock, cardiac arrest, hypothermia, and the “gasp reflex”, which could lead to individuals quickly taking water into their lungs and drowning.

Beyond the overall health dangers associated with the challenge, people in the Twin Ports have been taking the danger to a new level, jumping into Duluth’s shipping canal. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warns that this is not only extremely dangerous, but it is also very illegal. Officials with the Corps remind individuals that it is illegal to swim in federal navigation channels, such as both inlets from Lake Superior into the Duluth/Superior Harbors.

Authorities report at least 3 people in the last week have jumped off the Duluth canal pier and a handful of individuals have been stopped from jumping, where 30 feet of water with a strong currents await that could easily sweep even strong swimmers away or cold water temperatures could lead to shock/gasp reflex and drowning.

In another incident, two young people jumped off a ramp at Barker’s Island into about 5 feet of water, and were unable to get themselves out. An individual on shore was able to pull them out, but this is a reminder that jumping from any structure, even a low bridge or ramp can increase the danger of this already dangerous activity.

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