As an adventurous, water-faring women and a retired competitive swimmer, I tend to be over-confident in my swimming skills. Nothing says competent like confidence to a woman; however, there are instances in which I admit I should take the cautious route and one of those situations is rip currents.
A rip current, by definition, is a current of water that forms when waves moving from deep to shallow water break, or tumble over and turn into white foam, and cause a pull of water to go back out to sea. These currents can move at a rate of 8 feet per second, faster than an Olympic swimmer like Ryan Lochte.
For weak or beginning swimmers, these currents become one of the biggest risks of enjoying a day at the beach. For stronger swimmers like me and the majority of my readers, rip currents still poise a threat that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
According to the United States Lifeguarding Association webpage, over 100 people in the United States each year die from being caught and getting over-exhausted in a rip current. If those numbers alone aren’t enough to scare you, the 80% of ocean rescues being because of rip currents should make you stop in your swim lane.
Here are a few rip current safety tips according to weather.com:
- Swim in a lifeguarded beach as often as possible.
- Don’t swim by yourself!
- Keep 100 feet between yourself and piers, jetties or other permanent structures.
- Consider using polarized sunglasses (I prefer my RayBans but any polarized pair can be helpful to spot those rough patches telling of rip currents).
- Stay calm. This conserves energy and helps you think more clearly.
- DO NOT fight the current.
- Start swimming parallel to the current until you’re out and then swim at an angle towards the shore.
- If you’re unable to swim out of the current, float or tread water calmly and wait until you’re out of the current to swim to shore.
- WHEN AT A LOSS, wave your arms, yell for help and draw attention to yourself and a lifeguard will assist you.
Even the most confident swimmers and the most knowledgeable ocean-goers get caught in rip currents. As women, we have the tendency to let our thoughts fill our head with noise but when stuck in a “current” situation we have to focus on the now: getting out.
So use those powerful lower body muscles that women are famous for and tread water. Soon enough, you’ll be safely sunning on the shore once again.