We go to the beach a lot. At least 4 or 5 times a year. Sometimes more. We love the beach and understand that as beautiful as it is, it can also be a dangerous place. We’ve learned to leave a wide berth in the ocean for the jelly fish and to watch where we step to avoid crabs. We wear lots of sunscreen to protect our skin and sunglasses to protect our eyes. We’ve even seen the occasional shark (nowhere near us, though). But this weekend was our first experience with a rip current.
A rip current can be incredibly dangerous if you don’t realize what’s happening. Which we didn’t at first. Christopher and I were playing way out in the ocean and the water was pretty rough with some big waves. But we love playing in the waves so we were having a blast! I was on a float and he was next to me swimming around. We went over several big waves and had fun splashing and playing. And then suddenly Christopher looked behind me and went from playful to serious in a millisecond. He reached for my float and said, “Oh babe, hold on.” And then a massive wave broke over us and took us both completely under.
As the water slammed the side of my head, I wrapped both arms around my float and held on for dear life knowing that it would eventually bring me back to the surface. In probably less than 10 seconds (though it felt like forever) I broke through the water’s surface and took in a huge breath. No sooner did I make it to the surface than I heard Christopher’s voice yell at me to hold on to the float and then a second wave crashed over us both and took us completely under again. Again I held on as my float slowly brought me back to the surface. Christopher made his way to me just in time to tell me that another wave was coming. Yes, we got completely pummeled by three giant waves in a row.
When we went under the third time, Christopher found me under the water and grabbed me with a lifeguard rescue stroke. He was a lifeguard for three summers and instinct kicked in when he saw I wasn’t swimming. I can swim, but I didn’t realize we were caught in a rip current so I kept thinking that as long as I held on to my float, I’d be fine because I’d eventually float to the top and the waves should carry me back to shore. Because we kept getting taken under I couldn’t see anything and didn’t realize what was happening. Christopher, however, had identified the problem and realized that we needed to get out of the current. Once he had his arm wrapped around me and started swimming parallel to shore, I realized what was happening and started swimming too.
Once we got out of the line of the enormous, crashing waves we were able to make it to shore quickly. One of those guys who rents umbrellas & chairs on the beach walked up to us to be sure we were okay. He explained that a rip current had just opened up in this area and was really dangerous (obviously, ha!). Once we knew where the current was, it was a lot easier to avoid it or be more careful while in it for the rest of the day. 🙂
It was only after we sat down on the beach together that the impact of what had just happened (and what could have happened) actually sunk in. We found ourselves very grateful to be safe and sound. And on the bright side we now have experience with swimming out of a rip current. Helpful for future beach trips for sure. 🙂