Ocean swimming is part of the daily routine of Officers Kevin and Brendan Reen, a pair of brothers who are both Swampscott police officers. They grew up swimming in Swampscott’s waters, and when Kevin Reen started training for triathalons, his brother joined him.
But in these early days of summer, their police department has already made seven water rescues.
Officer Kevin Reen was nearby when a 911 call came in for a couple who had been floating on a raft along King's Beach when the wind picked up and swiftly carried them away from shore. He parked his patrol car and ran toward the water.
“Down the boardwalk, the stairs and down on the sand,” he recalled.
The couple had jumped off the raft and were trying, but failing, to get to shore.
“The male that was on the raft was trying to hold the female up, but every time he went under he had to let her go so he could come up and get air,” he said.
Reen peeled off a few layers of his uniform and headed toward the couple.
“It was a little windy, little bit of a white cap, nothing overly concerning,” he said.
That rescue came one day after a family on kayaks and a paddle board got caught in an offshore wind that pushed them from shore. It was the other Officer Reen who came to their rescue on board the Harbor Master’s boat.
“They had two little 7-year-olds on a kayak,” said Officer Brendan Reen, “and they were right up close to some rocks, and just beyond those rocks right into the open water.”
The brothers emphasized the need for water safety over the summer.
There may also be a benefit in employing modern technology. Swampscott police say one of the most memorable rescues this summer happened when a woman on a paddleboard called 911 on her Apple Watch.
“This, if anything, serves as a really good reminder that even in the early part of the beach season, things can change so quickly,” said Brendan Reen.
“It just takes a couple of minutes to figure out if the tide’s going out with a strong offshore wind, and if I get stuck on a raft then I’m going for a ride,” said Kevin Reen.