5 Tips To Avoid Drowning At The Beach

The beach is Australia’s favourite playground and we flock there by the millions every summer.

Learning to swim to survive is the most important thing you can do to stay safe in any aquatic environment – and is the #1 most important thing to learn before you get to the beach.

But, whether you’re a hardcore ocean swimmer or a graceful toe-dipper, the beach can be an unforgiving and dangerous place once you’re there.

While fun is usually at the top of our minds on beach days, so to should be your safety. Don’t get caught out this summer by taking un-necessary risks when you visit the beach.

OceanFit’s new Ocean Responsibility Code has been designed to educate you to make ocean safety your responsibility.

Keep to The Code to have fun and stay safe at the beach this summer.

OceanFit’s top 5 ocean safety tips from The Code:

1. Respect the ocean

The ocean environment is powerful, unpredictable and home to hidden dangers.

This might not be a practical tip, but it is #1 for a good reason. If you don’t respect the ocean then you will be caught out. Top watermen respect the ocean because they know of its immense power and unforgiving nature – you should respect it too.

2. Swim at patrolled beaches

Swim between the red and yellow flags on beaches patrolled by lifeguards.

This should be a no-brainer.  When you swim at a patrolled beach you have the added comfort and protection of knowing trained lifeguards are keeping watch. The flags are the safest area to swim, but if you’re on a surfboard you’ll need to keep out – in this instance just keep close.

Statistically the majority of drowning deaths occur on unpatrolled beaches during unpatrolled times.

3. If in doubt, stay out

It’s safer to stay out of the water if you’re unsure of the conditions or your ability.

When you respect the ocean this tip shouldn’t be a problem. You can avoid getting into trouble in the water by simply staying out when it’s beyond your ability, confidence or fitness levels.

If you decide to stay out, make the most of your trip to the beach by catching some rays, enjoying a coffee with a view or doing a bit of soft sand running.

4. Watch out for each other

Swim with a buddy and keep within sight and arms reach of children at all times.

No matter what your ability level always swim with a buddy. The ocean is unpredictable so you need to look out for each other. If you’re in a group do a head count when you get in, buddy up and re-count when you leave the water.

When it comes to children there’s no let off, you need to keep 100% visual contact. Hold the hands of babies and toddlers, and keep within arms reach of younger children.

5. Remain calm and raise an arm

If you get into difficulty: remain calm, float to conserve your energy and raise an arm for assistance.

People who panic waste their energy and make stupid decisions that can cost them their lives.

If you find yourself out of your depth you need to remain calm, float with your head above water and think about your options. On patrolled beaches you can raise your arm for the assistance of a lifeguard. On unpatrolled beaches continue to float, get the attention of surfers and other beach users and wait for them to organise a rescue.

A Guide To Family Beach Safety

A mother at the beach holding her daughter towards the camera.Beach days can be a hectic time for families.

Children love the beach, it’s the greatest playground on earth! But as a parent it can be a daunting experience, because while it’s loads of fun, it’s also busy with no boundaries and packed with potential dangers.

Family Beach Safety Guide

Plan your family day at the beach using this handy family beach safety guide:

  • Keep an eye on the weather so you know what to expect.
  • Visit beachsafe.org.au and check the beach you’re going to will be patrolled by lifeguards and read any warnings issued.
  • Pack water and small snacks to keep hydrated and energised. Smaller snacks = less time waiting for
    food to digest before swimming.
  • Wear plenty of sunscreen, a t-shirt and a hat. For super sun protection take a large umbrella or beach tent.
  • Learn the OceanFit Ocean Responsibility Code and use it to teach your kids how to have fun and stay safe at the beach.
  • Get to the beach early to avoid the crowds and miss the heat of the day.
  • Head straight for the red and yellow flags and stay there while swimming. They’re also great for creating boundaries for children when out of the water.
  • Always keep within sight and arms reach of your children. Leave the newspaper or book at home – you’re on kid watch!
  • Do a beach sweep before you leave for equipment, rubbish and the kids!
  • Take ice-cream money because there’s no better way to end a day at the beach.

Beach Checklist

Here’s a handy checklist of things you might need for a fun and safe day at the beach:

[checklist id=”checklist_21″ icon=”icon-check” type=”default”]

  • Swimsuit & towel
  • Thongs or sand shoes
  • Warm clothes for after swimming
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses & wide brimmed hat
  • Drink bottle and small snacks
  • Beach toys: frisbee, ball, bucket and spade
  • Body boards & surfboards with safety leashes & fins
  • Goggles and swim cap
  • Snorkel, mask and flippers
  • Beach cricket set or a bat and ball
  • Large beach blanket
  • Picnic lunch and plastic bag for rubbish
  • Beach chairs
  • Sun umbrella or sun shelter
  • Plastic bucket for wet clothes & towels in car
  • Money for ice-creams and other beach treats
  • Camera
  • Learn The OceanFit Ocean Responsibility Code
  • Sunsmart time of day: before 11am & after 4pm
  • Checked beachsafe.org.au for a patrolled beach


90 Ocean Swimming Tips From Our 2011 Twitter Campaign

During the 2010/11 summer season Andre Slade delivered 90 day’s worth of ocean awareness, confidence and fitness tips throughout the ’90 days of summer’ – 1 December 2010 to 28 February 2011!

The tips were delivered by Twitter so they’re all within 140 characters as well!

OceanFit’s 90 Ocean Swimming Tips:

  1. Learn to swim to survive. You’re never to young or to old to get started.
  2. Swim regularly. Swimming regularly helps you develop and maintain your swimming skills and basic fitness.
  3. Know your limits. Stay well within these limits until you’re confident your ability has increased to extend your limit.
  4. Get to know how the weather affects the conditions on your beach.
  5. If in doubt, stay out. If you’re hesitating it’s a sign that you’re best staying on the sand.
  6. Learn about Rip Currents. They can be both friend and foe so the more you know about them the better.
  7. Always swim with a friend. Not only is it more fun, but it’s safer too.
  8. Observe the conditions before entering the ocean. This is best done from an elevated position over at least 5 mins
  9. Be in control. It’s important to be in control when you’re in the ocean and not let the ocean take control of you.
  10. Respect the ocean. The Hawaiian watermen live by this motto for a very good reason.
  11. Keep warm. In cooler water temperatures wear a silicone swim cap (or 2) and keep moving.
  12. When standing in the wave zone do so with one foot in front of the other. It’s a great defensive and offensive stance.
  13. Before starting any ocean swimming sessions take the time to assess the high tide line for signs of stingers.
  14. Start your swim session with a short dry warm up. Take a jog along the beach and then stretch your upper and lower body.
  15. Observe the ocean floor the first time you head into the water. Get a feel for where gutters, holes and sand banks are.
  16. When running/wading into the water look above and below the water line to prepare yourself for what’s ahead.
  17. Look for a rip current close by to swim out through the wave zone faster. The current is outgoing and there are less waves.
  18. Look for shallow sandbars. It’s faster to wade/dolphin-dive over them than swim around them.
  19. Use your arms as much as your legs when wading. Get them both high and wide using your arms to drive your legs.
  20. A good pair of tinted or polarized (Vorgee) goggles will help you see better and reduce squinting while swimming outside.
  21. Make sure your googles are fitted and feel comfortable before you hit the water. Stopping to adjust them breaks your rhythm.
  22. The run to the water is not to late to change your line. If a set arrives or a sand bank clears you can deviate to benefit.
  23. Look for an oncoming wall of water when you’re running/wading out which will bring deeper water to start swimming sooner.
  24. Over holiday periods you can reduce your swimming sessions as a treat but don’t wipe them out. Consistency is your friend.
  25. Practice wading and dolphin diving in different water depths so you’re always ready for what the ocean throws at you.
  26. Don’t leave your goggles in the sun or in hot places (like seat of car). The heat will warp them & they won’t fit properly.
  27. If training for an ocean swim mix longer (aerobic) sessions with shorter (anaerobic) sprint sessions for endurance & speed.
  28. Make the transition between wading & dolphin-diving smooth. Try not to stop & think about it – you’ll loose your momentum.
  29. Dolphin-diving isn’t just for getting under waves. It should be used in any water depth too deep to wade.
  30. Dolphin-dive with your body in a streamlined position and enter the water no greater than 45 degrees to maximise glide time.
  31. Head down to the sea-floor when you dolphin-dive under a wave to get below the wave turbulence. It’s calmer near the bottom.
  32. When dolphin-diving under a wave use your hands like anchors to grip the sea-floor, securing yourself while the wave passes.
  33. To resurface after dolphin-diving in shallow water bring one foot in front of the other and push off the sea-floor.
  34. When you resurface from a dolphin-dive get straight back into your swim stroke & add six ‘power strokes’ to get up to speed
  35. ‘Power Strokes’ are a set of normal swim strokes with more effort. Use to increase speed quickly to gain greater momentum.
  36. If there are two waves coming towards you close together while dolphin-diving you should stay under water till both pass.
  37. Learn how to float and tread water efficiently. Even if you think you can swim these skills could save your life one day.
  38. Create fog free goggles by spitting in them while dry to create a barrier on the lens. Rinse in ocean water before wearing.
  39. When changing in & out of swimsuit under your towel tie the towel high so the bottom is half way up thigh for easier access.
  40. Create a seamless transition to start swimming by using a big push off the sea floor as part of your last dolphin-dive.
  41. Change in & out of your bikini or 1-piece on beach by putting on a t-shirt without arms in sleeves & changing underneath
  42. When you surface from diving under a wave get in a couple of swim strokes before breathing to regulate your stroke again.
  43. If when you run into water your breathing rate is high start by breathing every 2 strokes till it settles then go to 3 or 4.
  44. White water is fill of air bubbles so look to swim in as much blue/green water as possible for better propulsion and speed.
  45. For waves that are peaking but haven’t yet broken, don’t dive too deep underneath. Just push through the top to save time.
  46. In huge surf when you’ve dived deep under a wave, look up to the surface on your ascent and aim for calmer water to surface.
  47. Waves that haven’t begun to peak should just be swum over the top of. It’ll feel like a ramp but just keep swimming.
  48. For waves that have peaked & are starting to break, push through the top 1/4 of the wave only. Add a dolphin kick for speed
  49. If you tend to get sea-sick when in the ocean, try to limit time floating in one spot – think ‘on the move off the mind’
  50. Look ahead & stay on course without compromising rhythm by lifting head forward at start of breath before rolling to side.
  51. Balance how often you look forward (or back) when ‘sighting’. To much disrupts rhythm, to little & you’ll stray off course.
  52. Before heading into the surf give rips a reference point on land so you can locate them from at sea & avoid them on return.
  53. Breathe bilaterally when ocean swimming so you can keep an eye out for waves when swimming parallel to beach.
  54. Feel for the ocean movements while you’re swimming & then become one with it by adjusting your stroke to ‘go with the flow’.
  55. Learn about the local marine life and ocean environment where you swim and you’ll get more enjoyment out of your swims.
  56. Swell’s will give you a ‘lift’ when swimming to shore. Get even more out of them by adding a few power strokes on the lift.
  57. When returning to beach look for where waves are breaking all the way to beach. You’ll be able to ride them all the way in.
  58. When returning to shore keep an eye out for waves coming from behind by looking back under your arm as you take a breath.
  59. Get a feel for the time between larger wave sets, then time your return to shore with a large set to get the most benefit.
  60. Use backstroke intermittently when returning to shore for an extended look behind you for waves without compromising speed.
  61. When returning to shore to finish an ocean swim race ’empty the tank’, there’s no need for your energy once you’re on shore.
  62. Learn about wave periods and wave sets because understanding them will assist in your decision making in the wave zone.
  63. Get added distance from swell line ‘runners’ when returning to shore by adding a few power strokes as they pass beneath you.
  64. If there’s a wind chop on the ocean surface adjust your breathing to breathe away from the wind.
  65. If you get caught in the crash zone in big surf while returning to shore face out to sea and dive under waves.
  66. When returning to shore you can ‘sight’ behind you to look for waves by looking back under your armpit as you take a breath.
  67. When swimming through the wave zone you can work out you’re in the wave crash zone by stirred up sand and seaweed.
  68. Get extra time to scout for waves to bodysurf on your return to shore without losing speed by flipping over & backstroking.
  69. Look along the wave line while looking for a wave to catch, if they’re breaking to the side of you then head towards there.
  70. Judge on your return to shore whether waiting for a wave to catch is going to be faster than swimming the whole way in.
  71. Swimming onto an unbroken wave that’s about to break is your best option for body surfing from the back of the surf zone.
  72. To prepare to swim onto an unbroken wave, increase your stroke rate, kick hard, take a deep breath and keep your head down.
  73. Catching unbroken waves, when you feel it take hold of you start to stroke with one arm, keep the other stiff and in front.
  74. Catching unbroken waves, when you’re completely on the wave stop your swim stroke and get into a streamline position.
  75. Remain as stiff as a surfboard when bodysurfing, tighten up all your core muscles and stretch your whole body long.
  76. If you’re dumped by a wave while bodysurfing, remain stiff and long and kick hard to get to the front of the wave again.
  77. Bodysurfing with your arms stretched out in front is best for both safety and for creating a long streamline body position.
  78. If you find yourself falling off the back of a wave you’ve been bodysurfing, start swimming again to ride the last of it.
  79. For a clean exit at the end of large waves you’ve bodysurfed you can actually tumble turn out of them to finish.
  80. The less number of times you have to breathe while bodysurfing a wave the less chance you have of falling off it.
  81. Keeping your head tucked well inside your outstretched arms while bodysurfing will keep your body straighter.
  82. A good way to know when to stop bodysurfing & start dolphin-diving/wading is when your stroke arm hits the sea floor.
  83. If your goggles have filled up with water while bodysurfing, leave adjusting them until you’re out of the water and running.
  84. Leave the beach with less sand in your swimmers after a bodysurfing session by walking out from deeper water to finish off.
  85. Don’t treat bodysurfing like a holiday from swimming, to get the most out of the wave you’ll need to put in 100% effort.
  86. For streamlined dolphin-dives think in order “hands, head, shoulders, hips, knees, feet”, enter like an ‘n’ exit like a ‘u’.
  87. Cramping: Reduce by stretching, hydrating & not overdoing it. Treat by alerting a swim partner then floating and stretching.
  88. To reduce chafing when swimming, apply generous amounts of Vaseline to the areas most prone: your armpits and inner thigh.
  89. Get water out of your ears by holding nose & blowing out, jumping on 1 foot while shaking head or use over the counter products
  90. Ocean swimming is a lifetime of learning. Watermen maintain respect & empathy by always learning about, and from, the ocean.

10 Tips For Preparing For An Ocean Swim Event

An elderly man putting on his fluro green cap before his ocean swim event.I’ve been to more ocean swimming and surf life saving events than I can remember, and through all those events I’ve managed to lock down my own pre-race prep so I’m ready and raring to go every time.

Here’s my top 10 tips for preparing for an ocean swim:

  1. Before leaving home ensure you have all swim wear (goggles, swimmers,etc), towel, warm clothing, sunscreen, hat, adequate nutrition (food, water, etc) and check weather prediction for the day.
  2. Arrive in plenty of time to allow time for registering and a proper warm up.
  3. Observe the race course and racing conditions.
  4. Plan entry and exit paths (quickest way to first turning buoy, landmarks e.g. buildings to aim for on the way in, etc).
  5. Avoid long periods in the sun where possible.
  6. Keep warm.
  7. Hydrate before you race.
  8. Keep calm and relaxed.  If you find you are too tense take 3 big breaths.
  9. Wash out and then spit in your goggles to ‘antifog’ them, then rinse them well to ensure a fog free race. Note: Don’t clean your goggles with sunscreen on your hands.
  10. Enjoy the race!

Ocean Swimming Training Tips For Beginners

Ocean swimming can be a very enjoyable and rewarding sport if we choose to follow some basic training principles. An awareness of the ocean swimming training tips below will not only increase your individual fitness levels, but also reduce the risk of injury and over training.

These factors will allow us to gain more satisfaction out of the sport whether we are competing at a social, recreational, semi-competitive or competitive level.

This information is based on a combination of sports science research and my own personal experiences.

Paul Lemmon’s 7 Ocean Swimming Training Tips For Beginners

1. Warming up

It’s important to commence a training session with a proper warm up. A warm up increases the blood flow to the working muscles. This increases the body’s core temperature which will improve muscle performance.

More specific stretching exercises are optional depending on the individual’s needs and previous injuries after the warm up so there is less risk of injury during the main part of the training session.

When the training is going to contain shorter, faster repetitions the warm up should also contain some controlled speed work.

2.  Listen to your body

Do not overdo each training session. In the long term this can produce injuries and a lot of tiredness.

Mood changes, headaches, depression and difficulty in sleeping are four indications of too much training.

3. Goal Setting

Set yourself individual short and long term goals not only for ocean swim races you wish to participate in but also for training.

Follow your training schedule without having to push too hard.

Lead a balanced and healthy lifestyle, allowing for other commitments in your life like family, work and social.

Be realistic about the improvement you expect over a period of time and be aware of your limits to prevent too many disappointments.

4. Increase gradually

Increase the intensity and duration of your training program slowly each week.

Research has shown that your weekly distance should increase by no more than 10 percent.

Many injuries occur if you do too much, too fast, too soon.

5. Recovery

How you recover is crucial to ongoing success in sport.

After each training session eat high glycemic index (GI) foods within the first 30- 45 minutes as this is the optimal time for replenishing glycogen stores. High GI (quickly absorbed foods) include lollies such as jelly beans (handful), raisins, sports drinks (800mls) and muesli bars (3).

Ensure you are getting adequate sleep (between 8- 9 hours each night). If you have had a hard training session or ocean swim race on the day before, decrease the duration and intensity of the session on the following day.

Include at least one complete rest day (or two days if you feel you need it) each week in your training schedule.

6. Technique

Many ocean swimmers think that poor technique can be compensated for by an increase in weekly training distance and effort but this is not the case.

Technique sessions by swim coaches are never wasted. A knowledgeable observer or coach can help in recognising a faulty technique.

It is often worthwhile to join an adult or masters swim training squad so you can train under the guidance of skilled coaches. Attention to technique can help make big improvements, particularly if you are a novice ocean swimmer.

7. Skills

As well as training in the pool to improve your technique, it is important to swim in the ocean environment to get use to the variable conditions such as wave motion, sea temperature, tides, rip currents, etc.

It is recommended that at least two of your training sessions are done in the ocean each week. You can also improve your surf and ocean swimming skills dramatically by training with someone who has expertise in ocean swimming or a group of experienced people who can give you regular feedback. See: OceanFit’s Ocean Swimming Programs

The sport of ocean swimming means different things to different people, from finishing an event, gaining a certain place or winning. By following the above ocean swimming training tips we can maximise our enjoyment, healthy lifestyle and fitness in this great sport.

Ocean Swimming Safety


The ocean is a hazardous environment at any time and ocean swimmers must always respect it.

Conditions can change in the blink of an eye and can catch out even the most experienced ocean swimmer. Ocean swimming safety should be your first priority, to stay safe follow these ocean swimming safety tips.

Ocean swimming safety tips

  • Always swim with a friend at beaches patrolled by lifeguards
  • Wear a fluro swim cap to identify yourself in the water
  • Know your limits and if in doubt stay out
  • Before your swim, check conditions at the start and end points

Learn about avoiding risks by following OceanFit’s Ocean Responsibility Code.

Ocean Responsibility Code logo that says 'Keep to the code, have fun and stay safe. Know your ocean responsibility code.'