Top Tips for Swimming Safely in the Ocean

man and woman swimming together in open water

If you’re planning a trip to the beach this summer, you might find yourself longing to jump right into the big blue sea. Ocean swimming is different from swimming in a pool. You must watch out for currents, waves and other natural dangers. Do not go in if you cannot swim at all. If you’re experienced in swimming, you can take the initiative to enjoy the ocean, but there are still some things you need to understand about this unforgiving water before taking your first dive in.

Here are some top tips for swimming safely in the ocean!

Don’t Go Out Too Far

There will likely not always be buoys or visible ropes to remind people not to go past them. You need to use your common sense to not get too far and deep into the ocean. Try to stay wherever your waist meets the water. Waves can get high, and if you are not prepared to swim under when a strong and large one comes, don’t try to go farther.

Swim Where Lifeguards Are Visible

If you are not an extremely confident swimmer, always swim in a designated ocean swimming area supervised by lifeguards. Stay close to shore so you can be seen and rescued quickly if needed. Not all beaches have lifeguards on duty, so people swim at their own risk.

Know Swimming Conditions before Going In

Research and pay attention to the news or any signs that warn you about the conditions of a beach. There may be warnings of:

  • Rip currents are narrow channels of fast-moving water. Instead of fighting them, swim parallel to the shore with the current and angle yourself slowly back to land.
  • Large waves are more powerful than you might think. Dive under one before it breaks. And remember: Never turn your back to the ocean when you’re in the water. Rogue waves or undertow can happen at a moment’s notice.
  • Shore breaks happen when a wave breaks on land, knocking swimmers down. Avoid beaches with rocky outcroppings or a steep slope into the water to avoid serious injury.
  • Inshore holes are long trenches that run parallel to the beach. They can surprise waders who are expecting shallow water. Make sure your children can swim, and stay with them in any water.

Pro tip: Never swim alone, even if you are an experienced swimmer. A swimming buddy can signal for help if needed.

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