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PARK POINT - Huge waves and dangerous rip currents pulled a 20-year-old University of Minnesota-Duluth student off the shallow parts of the beach on Wednesday evening.
After being rescued she talked with FOX 21 photojournalist Nathaniel LeCapitaine about her struggle and why she should have paid closer attention to warning flags posted near the water's entrance.
"Well I was out here swimming with some friends. We were just kind of jumping in the waves for a bit and I could feel that I really couldn't touch the ground anymore and I was trying to swim back in and it was just pulling me backwards," Alexis Vetter said.
"We've been under a red flag warning all day today since the park opened under a riptide warning," Duluth Fire Department Assistant Chief Erik Simonson said.
"Today you can almost see the rip current that's in effect here. It's very easy to get overpowered," Simonson said.
"I had remembered riptides," Vetter said.
"If I'm in a riptide [I need] to swim sideways. So I was trying to swim sideways but the waves were so big kind of pulling me under and crashing over my head. I just kept getting sucked under the water and pulled backwards," Vetter said.
"She was assisted by another swimmer with a floatation device," Simonson said.
"[It was] a surfer with a surfboard," Vetter said.
"Whenever we could catch our breath we would yell help and he heard us and he came and got us. He helped us a lot. I don't know if we would have made it otherwise," Vetter said.
"I just wanted to cry and hug him. I just kept saying 'Thank you. Thank you so much'," Vetter said.
"They had asked me if I'd seen the red flags. I hadn't seen any flags at all. But I didn't look for them either. I just didn't think we could get them in a Duluth lake – Lake Superior," Vetter said.
"Don't, don't do it. It's not worth the scare," Vetter said.
The warning flag for Park Point beaches is found near 12th Street South and Minnesota Avenue near the "s" curve.
A red flag, like on Wednesday, means rip currents are likely and you should stay out of the water.
A yellow flag means you should use caution because rip currents are likely.
Green means safety as long as you are responsible in the water.
The flags system is managed by the city of Duluth.