VIDEO LESSON

Rip Currents and sand banks

Learn how and where rip currents and sand banks are formed, and how to navigate the surf using them.

Have you ever wondered why different sections of water on the same beach can look so different?

Why is it that there are breaking waves in some parts, but not in others?

Well, it’s quite simple. What you see on the surface of the water is, for the most part, determined by what’s happening underneath.

If the tide was to retreat, say 100 metres, you’d get a fantastic view of the undulating seafloor with it’s higher sandbanks and it’s lower channels.

As waves roll in from the deep ocean, they interact with the sandbanks and channels in different ways.

Waves will break with more consistency over the shallow sandbanks, and the water in the waves here will move towards the beach. This makes it a safer place to swim.

There will be less, or no wave activity in the channels, where the waves sink down into the deeper water and are met by a current of water returning back out to sea between the sandbanks.

From the beach, you’ll be able to pick the sandbanks and channels (rip currents) by looking for wave activity, or inactivity, and this will help you choose where to swim.

Whilst most beachgoers should only swim on the sandbanks for safety (this is where you’ll find the red & yellow flags); smart ocean swimmers will use the channels to swim out to sea with the rip current, and use the sandbanks to return to the beach with the waves.

Want to test the theory?

Next time you’re at the beach check where the lifeguards have placed the flags, you’ll find they’ve been placed where the most waves are breaking. Then look for the ‘No Swimming’ signs, they’ll be where there are little or no waves.

Share:

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email

RELATED LESSONS

Swimming over waves

In this lesson you will learn how to spot waves you can swim over and the technique for doing so.

Wading

In this lesson you will learn when to use the wading technique and how to wade out as you navigate the surf zone.

High and low tide

Learn how different tides affect the conditions in the water and how to use it to your advantage.

Putting it all together

Learn how to put together everything you’ve learnt about the ocean environment in a theoretical example.

Season runs from 1 Oct to 30 April. Some contact out of season.

Be informed

Join 10k+ swimmers who hear about upcoming ocean swims & get tips from us

Every swim, every state. 220+ swims!