Sad news on the weekend about those two young women who fell into the waters of Lake Couchiching (in Orillia, Ontario) after their canoe capsized. One managed to swim to shore but the other did not make it. Neither was wearing a life jacket.
When I was twenty years of age I went canoeing with friends in an overloaded canoe -- four of us. And we were not wearing life jackets as we took the canoe up the Nottawasaga River here in Ontario. The trip was eventful enough in that there were a few portages to hop. The bad news came about when we paddled around a hairpin turn. We rolled like the SMS Blücher. The canoe's crew fell into the river. Instinct takes over during moments like that, as anyone could tell you who's been thrown into such distress.
My own instinct combined with my ability to swim -- my mother was a swim coach -- to guide me to that waiting marker on the river bank. Feet paddled as the rest of me front-crawled, propelling me to safety. All four of us thankfully made it to shore.
I'm not trying to impress anyone with my swimming skills. Really. More impressive: We got lucky. Any bad luck, like getting bonked on the head by a capsizing canoe, got swept down the river.
As an epidemiologist friend said to me a few years ago: "There's no such thing as an accident."