Many people come to Florida beaches every year from around the world only to be faced with the realization that mother nature can be a very brutal force to reckon with. Even for the avid swimmer a lack of understanding regarding rip current safety can be a deadly situation. It is not safe to simply hop into the water at the beach and assume that all will be well simply because one knows how to swim.
What are Rips: Rip currents are the current that is created underneath the upper surface of the water due to a washing away of the sand beneath. When the tide pulls out it pulls sand from the beach along with it. Eventually this pulling of sand will leave a rut that is far beneath the water and not visible to the swimmer. The rut causes the water to be pulled in a downward direction as it tries to fill the hole. This flow of water will forcefully pull out to sea which creates what is known as a rip current or an undertow.
What to do if you are Caught in an Undertow or a Rip Current: If you happen to get caught in a rip current that seems to be pulling you down and out to sea there are some precautions that you can take. First and foremost, DO NOT PANIC! If you know how to swim and you are conditioned properly a rip current is not instant reason for alarm.
Swim in a direction that is parallel to the sea shore. Do not attempt to swim directly towards the shore in a straight line as this will only leave you fighting against mother nature and the rip current. Even a conditioned swimmer such as a lifeguard will not sustain a head to head fight against mother natures tides! The adult swimming lessons will teach the person to swim and take participation in the swimming competition. The skills of the person will be enhanced through the lessons.
Swimming parallel to the shore with allow you to get away from the undertow that was created by the rut in the sand beneath the water. Once you feel that the pull out to sea is no longer holding on to you, then you may begin to swim toward the beach. Remember that any attempts to swim to the beach before getting away from the rip current are a waste of energy!
Never Swim Unattended: Always use caution when swimming at the beach. If you are unfamiliar with rip currents or you are not an experienced swimmer then it is best only to swim where there is a lifeguard present. Do not ever swim in the ocean alone. Remember that mother nature is much stronger than you are and you should always use extreme caution when taking a lunge into mother nature’s pool-the ocean!