How to Avoid and Survive a Rip Current

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.

Rip Current Round Island

PHOTO CREDIT: Debbie Seagrave

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

  • 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).

And the tips to survive if youHumiston Beach Fancy find yourself in a rip current:

  • 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.


Shipwrecked? Have a worry-free underwater exploration.

Breaconshire shipwreck

One of the advantages of living in a state that sticks out from the main land mass that is the United States is the number of ships that run their courses into it.  And I mean literally!

Because of the limestone under-layer that Florida sits upon, many ships have met an untimely end.  This is most unfortunate for them but, years later, I find myself thinking how bored I would be as a water adventurer had they not met such misfortune.

Exploring shipwrecks is an activity that every sunshine-loving Florida girl should get to experience at one point for another. Continue reading