UW Lifesaving Station gears up for more boat traffic on Lake Men - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UW Lifesaving Station gears up for more boat traffic on Lake Mendota


MADISON (WKOW) -- In Dane County, law enforcement has some extra help keeping people safe on a popular lake. The UW Lifesaving Station patrols Lake Mendota seven days a week for anyone who needs help.

Supervisor Chris Kleppe says the start of the season was slow, thanks to a cool and wet spring. "I think a lot of the boaters have some catching up to do as far as wanting to get out on the water so we expect the rest of the summer to be very busy," Kleppe says.

His crews are in touch with 911. They respond to calls and patrol for swimmers or boaters in distress. "A lot of beginning sailors come out of that corner of the lake down by the Memorial Union and we're here to make sure that they get back safely," Kleppe says.

They usually make half a dozen life-threatening rescues each year. "These are the runs that we know, usually by the time that we get back, that if we hadn't interceded at some point, there probably would have been fatality."

Kleppe says swimmers that overestimate their abilities, along with alcohol lead to the most drowning situations. That's why the serve as lifeguard to the entire lake, something that other bodies of water don't usually have.

"As far as lifesaving stations similar to ours, we're pretty unique in that respect," Kleppe says.

The UW Lifesaving Station is funded by the state and was founded in 1909, when officials realized the popular lake needed more supervision.

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