Jul 11 2011

Safe Swimming Tips

Forget going to the pool this summer; the Atlantic Ocean lapping against Edisto’s shore is the reason so many people make their way to this out-of-the-way island year after year. Thanks to the hot summers and warm currents running through the ocean, the water is already close to 90 degrees and July has only just begun.

There are few things as relaxing as lying on a tube and gently rocking in the waves. First-timers and Edisto’s loyal vacationers must make it a point to experience what it’s like to float over waves and drench themselves in sunshine on a daily basis. If the water is calm enough, consider bringing a tasty cold beverage out during your float.

For anyone looking for a little more action, try bodysurfing during high tide. It can be a little tricky at first, but once you feel a wave grab you by the core allowing you to ride it to the shore you’ll be hooked and riding waves like a pro.

It’s true the ocean offers an abundance of fun for everyone from a relaxing floater on a tube to kids bodysurfing in the breakers, but it’s also important to know what to expect before getting in the water.

To begin with, familiarize yourself with tides and pick up a tide chart for free at a number of stores in the Edisto area.

Tides occur due to the gravitational pull from the moon and the sun and are also influenced by the rotation of the earth. When high tide occurs, this means the ocean has surged forward as if it has gotten closer to the land.

On Edisto Beach, this means much of the sandy part of the beach is under water. While swimming in high tide, swimmers will often notice that when they step into the water they could walk just a few feet and then step off a sandy ledge. This does not mean that the water will quickly be deeper than knee or waist level, but it can be surprising to anyone not used to it. The reason this happens is because the surge carves out the sand and creates little peaks and valleys on the sandy floor.

Edisto visitors should also be aware of the fact that during high tide many parts of the beach that are the most heavily eroded (a natural coastal occurrence caused by the ocean water’s force) slope into the water. This means that exiting the ocean sometimes requires swimmers to have to step up to get out of the water. This is generally not a big deal, but sometimes when the wind picks up and the waves crash over and over again, it can be a little tiring to wade through the breakers and get out of the water. Small children and the elderly might consider not going in the water during high tide.

In addition, it is not necessary to go out more than four or five feet into the water during high tide and it is not advised for anyone to ever swim out past the breakers. Even strong swimmers can become exhausted swimming against the strong currents in the ocean, so it is best to stick to the shallow water where getting out isn’t too difficult.

Low tide occurs when the water recede. Visitors to Edisto Beach will notice that during low tide it takes longer to walk to the water’s edge. The waves are often times gentler, although windy days contribute to choppy waves during low tide.

This is a great time for people with small children to take advantage of the ocean as the bottom is level and the gentler surf make it easier to float on a tube and relax.

No matter what tide is in effect, it is important to remember that there are no lifeguards on Edisto Beach and all swimmers enter the water at their own risk. Swimmers should also be aware of rip currents/rip tides.

Rip currents occur when a channel of water flows from the shore into the depths of the ocean. They can travel at speeds of up to 8 feet per second, which means if a swimmer were to get stuck in a rip current then that swimmer could find himself swept out to sea in no time. If this occurs, it is important to not try and fight the current; instead, swim parallel to shore to get out of the flow of the rip current. After getting out of the rip current, then swimmers can attempt to swim back to shore or signal for help.

Check the local weather channel before swimming just to make sure rip current advisories are not in effect for the times you want to swim.

While some of this information makes the ocean seem intimidating, it is necessary to have a level of respect for its power, but it is also important to remember to have a great and safe time while swimming in the Atlantic.

 

 

 

 

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