Chicago first responders hold water safety demonstration ahead of swimming season

A perfect day at Navy Pier includes sunshine, calm winds and water.

However, Chicago rescuers can activate in the worst weather. On Tuesday, they reminded the public to be safe, to avoid emergencies.

Helicopters, boats, dive teams and medical personnel were on hand to stage a water rescue off Navy Pier.

Chicago firefighter Ernie Escalante portrayed a victim, stranded in the water. A helicopter swept for any hazards before dropping two divers to rescue the swimmer, taking him to a boat for transport.

It looked like a textbook rescue by calm professionals who train every week, even at night or under ice.

They hope the demonstration served as a reminder: Respect Lake Michigan and all Chicago waterways for boating and swimming.

Chicago Police Officer Gretchen Chavez said the water temperature today is 55 degrees, cold enough that a swimmer can lose dexterity in that temperature.

Chicago Fire Department Deputy District Chief of Marine and Dive Operation Jason Lach said it's important to swim in groups.

"No one should swim alone. Swim with a partner. Even the strongest swimmer can have a bad day," Lach said.

Officials said the public should call for help the moment there is trouble. They recently responded to a drowning where a witness spent 20 minutes looking for the victim before calling for help.

Swimming is technically allowed only when Chicago beaches are officially open, starting Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., only when lifeguards are present and on duty.