How to Fight a Rip Tide

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Getting caught in a rip current is no day at the beach. But it doesn’t have to ruin your vacation. With a few easy steps, you can slip out of a rip tide and get back to working on that tan.

1. Know Your Enemy

The best way to conquer a rip tide is to avoid it entirely. Rip tides occur when breaking waves cross underwater obstacles separated by a small gap, like a pair of sandbars, before being forced back out to sea. Rip currents can be tough to spot, but if you see breaks in waves rolling into shore, water that’s a different shade than its neighbors, or lines of particularly choppy water, swim somewhere else.

2. Don’t Fight It

It sounds crazy, but if you still stumble into a rip tide, don’t try to battle back to shore against the current. You will lose. The rip tide is stronger than you are, and the water can hit speeds of up to eight feet per second. (That’s faster than Olympic swimmers!) Fighting back against the current won’t get you anywhere, but it’s sure to wear you out.

3. Take a Parallel Path

Instead of fighting back towards the beach against the rip tide, swim parallel to the shore. Think of the rip tide as a conveyor belt that you need to get off of. Make your move for one of the edges, where the water will be behaving normally.

4. Wait It Out

If you can’t swim out of the rip current, don’t give up. Simply stay calm and conserve your energy by floating or treading water as the current carries you out to sea. Eventually, the rip tide’s pull will weaken, allowing you to swim out of its range.

5. Head Home

Once you’re clear of the rip current, it’s time to use that energy you saved. Swim back towards shore using the incoming waves to help propel you towards the beach. Take it easy swimming in, and let a lifeguard know about the rip current that caught you.
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Once you’re safely back on the sand, you will have gotten a full day’s exercise. It’s now the perfect time to sit back with an ice-cold Dos Equis and enjoy the view.

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September 5, 2013 - 8:44am
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