July 8, 2010 9:10pm CST
I grew up in Southeast Alaska where we had the ocean but it was sheltered by a huge archipelago. All those islands broke up the currents so that we never had surf, only huge tides which made the ocean water safe for swimming. The year I turned 30, I moved to California and went to my first beach party. I thought I would try out the water there. Well, you guessed it. My first time in those currents and I got caught in a rip tide. I was pulled out over a sand bar where I was able to touch my toes to the top of it. I kept trying to push off and swim for shore, only to find myself pulled back out over that sand bar. At the same time the water was splashing in my face and my limbs started to fatigue from treading water. I remembered seeing a sign that said there was no life guard on duty so I tried hollering to some surfers who were down the beach a ways for help. They didn't seem to hear me. Suddenly I spotted a jeep pulling up on the beach and a lifeguard swimming out toward me. What a welcome surprise! He swam up to me and asked me how I was. I told him I felt like I was about to croak. He put a floater around me and had my lay on my back while he towed me in. At one point he paused and had me hold my breath while he let a wave crash over us before continuing. When we finally got to the shore, I was so grateful to be safe, I told my girlfriend that I didn't even mind the fact that this lifeguard wasn't cute! LOL...I guess they're not all Hasselhoffs, eh? The weird thing about the entire experience was that I never panicked. Even when I kept getting salt water in my nose and was so tired I could have easily collapsed, it was like I just knew that I was going to be okay. My guardian angel was really looking out for me that day. I never really thought much about it until a month later I walked into a classroom where the advisor for our young adult group was teaching a class. He looked up at me and said, "The last time I saw you, you nearly drowned." It was then that I realized just how serious my situation had been. I never went back into the water in California and to this day I have never wanted to. I have always loved swimming but have never really been a very strong swimmer. I had never known how strong those open ocean currents could be but I guess I learned first hand, eh? What kind of stories do you have about your experiences with ocean currents?
• United States
9 Jul 10
I grew up going to NJ almost every summer. We went swimming at Point Pleasant Beach, and they did have life guards on duty in certain areas that were roped off to let you know where they were guarding. When I was younger I would go swim, and if they were letting you in, then there weren't any riptides going on, if the waves were bigger or there were riptides, they would close the beach to swimming. Or, put up a sign that said "swim at your own risk". So, I would go when it was deemed safe, and learned to body surf and stuff, which would've been a LOT more fun if the water had been warmer Anyway, let me start by saying that my mother insisted that we learn to swim, in lessons in a pool, so we knew how to be safe and not panic in the water.. So, one day, I was out there, and caught a wave, well, as surfers do, sometimes you get your timing off and I got caught by the wave and smashed down to the sand. Because I could swim, I sank my hands and feet into the sand and started crawling, holding on when the water retreated. Needless to say, I got caught in the next wave too - but I had grabbed a breath of air while the wave was out. When the next wave retreated I had a lifeguard there pulling me the rest of the way out. He asked me if I was okay. Well, my eyes were full of sand, so I couldn't tell you if he were cute or not, but I told him, "I was fine," I didn't think I needed a lifeguard. Anyway, I was full of sand in my suit, so after resting a while, I decided to go back to my grandfather's house and shower the sand off. Pop had installed an outside shower head so we could get the sand and salt off before we got inside, there wasn't any walls, so someone would hold up a towel to give us the privacy to take off our sandy/salty suits and wrap in while we went into the basement to one of the changing rooms he had built down there. The only other time I was "rescued" by a lifeguard, I wasn't even IN the water, my brother, cousin and I were building a TOTALLY awesome sandcastle when suddenly, we were being grabbed into the air. The next thing we knew, there was a BOAT in the middle of our sand castle!!! I have, however, been in the situation, twice, where I actually did rescue 2 people... Not something I had planned for or trained for, just - what would you call it? Right place at the right time or something like that!