- Associated Press - Saturday, July 30, 2016

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 told Newsday after the mishap Friday.

It happened while Underwood, a 21-year-old University of Delaware student from Bayport, was boating to his summer job as a lifeguard and swim teacher at a beach club.

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, he said, and he slipped overboard in the Great South Bay. The boat kept going, leaving Underwood behind with no life jacket.

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



Estimating he was about 2 miles from shore and knowing the wind was blowing that way, he started swimming in the roughly 80-degree water. To keep himself on course, he watched sea gulls that were facing into the wind, he said.

About an hour later, the Suffolk County Police Department got a call about an unmanned boat and started searching, with help from other agencies.

Sgt. John Vahey found the boat then located Underwood about a mile away, roughly 20 minutes later, police said. Underwood said he waved his red lifeguard bathing suit as a flag once he saw police boats.

Underwood was uninjured. And after a big breakfast, he said, he downloaded a U.S. Coast Guard safety app.

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This story has been revised to correct that the wind was blowing toward shore, not from shore.

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Information from: Newsday, https://www.newsday.com

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