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"I don't know how you would regulate it," he said. "Would you tie a string to the back of their swim trunks?"

What follows is a huge response involving lifeguards, EMS, fire and rescue and law enforcement. Sometimes the swimmer who sparked the call doesn't need or want help, he said.

"What we want is to at least keep (swimmers) inside that 300 foot limit," he said.

Boyles said the best solution might be for lifeguards to continue communicating their concerns to beachgoers, reminding them not to swim past the first sandbar.

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But Vause Private Shoes Golden Goose said too many beachgoers think they're in good enough shape to make it to the second sandbar and back safely when they're not.

Vause modeled his proposal on an ordinance in Volusia County. He said Walton and Escambia counties have similar restrictions.

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Those swimmers' decisions put lifeguards at risk, particularly when the surf is rough, Vause said.

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of lifeguards and law enforcement officers.

Beach safety officials want to tighten Okaloosa County's restrictions on swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Under proposed changes to the law governing county parks, beachgoers would be prohibited from swimming more than 300 feet from shore. Also included is a ban on swimming, diving, surfing or watercraft use within 150 feet of the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier.

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Under the existing law, when double red warning flags are flying, no one except for surfers with leashed surfboards can enter the water. That provision would remain unchanged, but the proposal would make it illegal to ignore the direction Golden Goose Boots Uk

"How does a lifeguard determine the 300 foot point?" Commissioner Nathan Boyles said. "The Gulf of Mexico is not a swimming Tod's Suede Heels

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Vause said other beachgoers often spot the swimmers and, thinking they're in distress, call 911.

He likened the proposed restrictions to those that exist at major skiing destinations.

"Your typical, average swimmer is not capable of swimming home," he said. "Statistics show that well over half aren't capable of doing it."

"These people refuse to come in because there's no ordinance that says they can't do it," Vause said. "There's no law against it."

When those "extreme swimmers" go beyond the second sandbar, they are more than a football field's length from the beach and more difficult for lifeguards to reach, he added.

Vause added that keeping swimmers closer to shore also avoids putting lifeguards at unnecessary risk.

The board balked at approving any of the proposals, and postponed discussion until Jan. 22.

Amunds said he is "not a fan of trying to overgovern," and that most people are going to do what they want.

He said he has seen the "unnecessary response" unfold several times a day during the height of the summer season.

pool, and I'm not sure it's our job to treat it as such. I think you have to allow folks to make their (own) decisions, both good and bad."

Some Okaloosa officials leery of restricting swimmers in Gulf SLIDESHOW

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Commission Chairman Don Amunds said he understands the safety concerns, but doubts that a 300 foot limit can be enforced on a crowded beach during the summer.

Aspen, there are slopes you can't go on unless you can demonstrate a certain level of skill," Vause said.

In addition to the 300 foot rule, proposed revisions to the parks law bans the use of rafts, floats, boogie boards, belly boards and other flotation devices more than 300 feet from the beach.

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The proposed swimming restrictions were first presented to the board Dec. 18 as part of a long list of changes to the law that governs county parks. That list included tougher litter regulations that would make it illegal to leave tents, chairs and other personal items on the beach overnight.

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Some commissioners have questioned whether increased swimming restrictions can be enforced.

Okaloosa County commissioners are scheduled to discuss the proposed changes at a public hearing Jan. 22 in Fort Walton Beach.

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