I spent some time in the sea this summer, and it reminded me that the more acquainted I become with ocean swimming, the more respect I have for the ocean. I found some sage safety advice from Michael Christie and Australian ironman Craig Riddington on staying safe in the surf. I couldn’t help but chuckle and think that this information may as well apply to most things in life.
I’ve taken Michael’s points and added more context and color in italics.
Know your limits as a swimmer. Oceans aren’t swimming pools, and every swim is different. Understand the bail out areas. Know and understand your beach.
Never panic. Always keep calm. When you panic you start using up precious energy that you’ll need to get back to shore. Panic clouds your judgment. I’ve seen people swim in the wrong direction because they get disorientated.
Time entry and exit to set waves. Timing is everything. The ocean is more powerful than you. Take a walk on a beach sometime note the massive trees washed ashore. That’s raw power. Don’t fight it, go with the flow.
Go out on the rip current. Study your surroundings. Don’t fight the flow. Go with the flow. An Olympic swimmer will lose one-on-one against a strong ocean current.
Come in on the sandbank. Surf in on the waves, feel the sand under your feet. Just because you see the shore doesn’t mean you can swim straight in.
Swim a maintainable pace so you:
Keep your breath. Breath slowly, stay calm and feed your body.
Keep your energy. Don’t burn calories worrying. Pick your exit, don’t fight the ocean and go with the flow
Keep your courage.
Come on in; the water is warm.