|Image: Coney Island, New York City. Click image to enlarge.
The sign on the fence running along Coney Island’s famous boardwalk couldn’t be plainer. I don’t know if locals swim outside the hours stated on the notice. Nor do I know if lifeguards patrol the entire length of the beach in the area of the boardwalk. However, I do know the beach at Coney Island is officially closed between September and May each year, which for most Australians would be beyond belief.
Of course, it wouldn’t happen in Australia. The idea that swimming could be prohibited at a major suburban beach for whatever reason would invoke howls of protest amongst swimmers, surfers, jet skiers, boaties and others water enthusiasts.
Occasionally – and I do mean occasionally – a beach might be closed temporarily due to the dangers presented by roving sharks, large numbers of blue-ringed octopus, box jelly fish, or other such hazardous marine life.
Other than that, why would you stop people from enjoying an early morning swim?
More importantly, why would you stop folks heading to the beach after a long hot day at school, the office, or other place of work? In Australia, over summer, the beaches are well patronized in the evenings when the heat of the day has dissipated somewhat, and families have an opportunity to share some time together relaxing by the ocean or cooling off in the sea.