Drowning Prevention Experts: Teens should swim near lifeguard, never overestimate swimming skills

Victim's friend: He had a future like all of us

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Balloons and flowers in hand, forty teenagers gathered together on the sand to remember their friend. 

Rodelson Normil, 17, was swept away in the waves Friday afternoon, his body hasn't been recovered. His friends found comfort in each other, but struggle with the fact he is gone.

"We're not so good, that's why we're here to say our last goodbyes. We'll try to let go of the emotional distress," said Cristian Martinez, a friend of Rodelson.

Rodelson was swimming near Gulfstream Park with friends, when he got caught in a rip current. One of his friends event went in after him.

"Zac went in and tried to help him, but he panicked. He pushed him down and Zac had to get out, if not he would've been lost too," said Martinez.

Rodelson is the third teenager who has apparently drowned in Palm Beach and Broward counties in the last six weeks. Drowning prevention expert Anna Steward says that number is surprisingly high.

"When a group of teens go to the beach and some swim and others don't, peer pressure may come into play. People don't realize what their swimming capabilities are, and these tragedies happen," said Stewart.

Stewart urges teens to swim near a lifeguard, and never overestimate their strength. 

Martinez says Rodelson wasn't an experienced swimmer, but his friends didn't know.

"He was very smart and had a future like all of us in the program. He left too quickly to know what was going to happen in the future," said Martinez.

The Drowning Prevention Coalition of Palm Beach County offers swimming classes to all ages. Click here for more information.

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