As mentioned, a rip current can suddenly appear. They can also rapidly ramp up in velocity. A rip current moving at 1-2 feet per second is no cause for alarm. But it can quickly start to move at a more dangerous 3 feet per second and have even been clocked trucking along at 8 feet per second.
If you get caught in a riptide, here’s what to do:
Don’t panic. Feeling like you’re getting swept out to sea can be terrifying. But try to keep calm. Rip currents won’t pull you under-they’re just channels of moving water. And while they can extend a ways out, they do eventually dissipate, most within 50-100 feet of the shoreline. So you’re not going to wash up on the shores of a deserted island with only a volleyball for a friend.
Don’t try to swim against the rip. Deaths that result from riptides aren’t caused by the current pulling someone under; instead, the person typically panics, starts trying to swim against the rip to get back to shore, becomes exhausted, and drowns. An 8 feet per second riptide is so strong that not even Michael Phelps, even when he had that amazing mustache, could swim against it. Don’t kick against the pricks.
Swim parallel to the shore. Instead of swimming against the rip current, you want to swim perpendicular to it, in either direction. Rip currents are typically only 20-100 feet wide. Once you leave the rip, swim at an angle away from it towards the shore.
Go with the flow. If you don’t have the swimming skills or energy to swim out of the rip, float on your back and go with the current. Just imagine you’re taking a spin on the Lazy River at the water park you went to as a kid. Once the rip current dissipates, you can do the parallel swim thing or try to signal to the lifeguard or someone else that you’re in need of help. CAUSE I CARE!! One time in my life i got caught in one of these! Its NO JOKE!! I had only Seconds of Air Left! I Swam Right,North IN OCMD and got out of it!!