For those that work professionally with the ocean as their office, there is a inert level of understanding and an ability to identify developing situations. There is a glaringly obvious sixth sense to anticipate probable outcomes and react accordingly. In the position of a seasoned ocean lifeguard this skill plays a most critical role.
In this video, one of our ambassadors, Tim Capra, a 22 year ocean rescue veteran and off duty lieutenant with the Vero Beach Lifeguards, rescues two people from a rip current while enjoying an evening at the beach with his family.
While being filmed for a short interview to raise awareness for the upcoming Earth Day beach cleanup by Surf City surf shop owner, Rip Brazie, Capra sees a rip current developing near some bathers. As he moves closer to the water, the bathers are swept into deeper water where they can no longer stand and Capra hits the water in a full sprint with his daughter’s small foam surfboard.
Video courtesy of Kip Brazie Photography
As he approaches the victims, who know have been sucked out beyond the breaking waves, a fully blown rip current has clearly formed. Rip currents are more common during larger surf episodes but can flash at anytime without warning. They are primarily caused by water that rushes back out to sea through a gap in a sandbar, creating a river type flow that even a strong swimmer could not swim directly into.
Once Capra has the victims holding onto the board, he makes his way back towards shore and into shallow water. The quick actions of Capra and his ability to not only see the developing danger but simultaneously identify that the non-swimmers were unaware of what was happening, leaves this story with a happy ending.
The United States Lifesaving Association offers these tips to avoid and survive rip currents:
Learn how to swim!
- Never swim alone.
- Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don’t go out!
- Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard protected beach.
- Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.
- If caught in a rip current, remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
- Don’t fight the current. Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
- If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
- If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself: face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.
If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1 . Throw the rip current victim something that floats and yell instructions on how to escape. Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.