Rip Currents: A Treadmill Effect
A rip current is a strong offshore current or a strong narrow subsurface current flowing away from shore, visible as a band of agitated water. They usually form at breaks in sandbars and near structures such as jetties or piers. The strength and speed of rip currents vary and are unsteady, which is what makes them especially dangerous. Rip currents do not pull beachgoers under the water; they pull them away from shore, sometimes as fast as 8 feet per second. That means rip currents can sweep even the strongest swimmer away from the shoreline which is where fear, panic, exhaustion or lack of swimming skills play a part in the dangers of a rip current.
There are clues that a rip current might be present. Look for a channel of churning, choppy water where there is a difference in water color or sediment is churning. You may also notice a line of foam, seaweed or debris moving out to sea, or even a break in the incoming wave pattern.
Just like a treadmill uses an endless belt on which somebody can walk, jog or run, a rip current has the same effect; it just can't be turned off. No matter how fast or hard you move on the unstoppable treadmill, you are not able to get anywhere unless you step to the side. If you are caught in a rip current, remain calm so that you conserve energy and think clearly. Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. Once you are out of the rip current, swim at an angle back to the shoreline. If you are unable to swim out of the current, float or tread water until the current ends, then begin your swim back to shore.
If you are unable to reach the shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arms and yelling for help. If you see someone in trouble, first get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, call 9-1-1. Do not swim out to them, because you may become a victim as well. Instead throw something that floats to them and yell instructions on how to escape.
Rip currents account for 80% of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards. In order to have a fun and safe experience at the beach, follow these safety guidelines:
- Know how to swim
- Never swim alone
- Swim in an area where a lifeguard is on duty
- Obey all instructions and orders from the lifeguards
- Be cautious at all times
- If in doubt, don't go out!
Swim Like a Champion
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to participate in a swimming competition in a packed venue with a cheering crowd? Six swimmers who regularly participate in the Masters Swimming program at Great Neck got such an experience, one of whom is our very own Judy Martin, Water Safety Instructor at Princess Anne.
The group went to the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta, site of the U.S. Masters Swimming Short Course National Championships from May 20-23. They were among nearly 2,000 swimmers (age 18+) registered to compete in individual and relay events.
Judy has been swimming with a masters group for thirty years and loves attending large competitions. She said the energy in the air is almost tangible; all the competitors are young and vibrant despite their chronological ages. She especially enjoys the feeling of camaraderie she and her masters swimming friends share. All that energy translates into fast swimming! Judy was happy with her times, as they represent some of the best she has swum (and she is only six-months recovered from hip surgery!). She entered several individual events (distances in yards) including the 50, 100 and 200 Backstroke; 50 Breaststroke; 1000 Freestyle, as well as two relays in the age 65+ category: 200 Mixed Medley and 200 Women's Medley (swimming the backstroke leg of both relays). Her women's relay team won the gold medal! Overall the Virginia Masters team (which includes our six swimmers) won the women's divisions and combined scores.
When asked to recap some of the meet highlights, Judy relates that the swimming venue was incredible. Due to the large scale of the meet, events were swum in two separate pools: one for even heats and one for odd heats. Overall, she felt it was a nice experience to go there with her friends and enjoy "a total escape from reality. Just go there and swim, no worries."
Get the Most From Your Workout
When planning your swimming workout, be sure to include a warm up, a main set, and a cool down. An occasional long, slow swim is good, but not every workout. Push yourself a little.
The warm up should be one fourth to one third of the total distance. Start off slowly and gradually increase the pace. You can do some drills, some kicking, and some pulling, but it's not necessary to include all of them each workout.
The main set should be at least one half of the total distance. This is the place where you can add variety. Some workouts might be a long timed swim. Another day you might do a set of 50s or 100s. Keep it interesting.
Don't neglect the cool down. If you elevated your heart rate during the main set, you need to swim easy to return to normal. The cool down prevents or reduces muscle soreness.
Please Note Our Upcoming Facility Closures
Great Neck Recreation Center will be closed August 30 through September 5 for maintenance.
All Community Recreation Centers and Owl Creek Tennis Center
will be closed September 6 for Labor Day.
Don't forget that your membership is good at all six Virginia Beach Recreation Centers! If your usual center is closed for maintenance, take the opportunity to visit another center. Use this locator
to help you find one!
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