As I write this I'm still quite shaken and, feel a little sick from swallowing water after being caught in a riptide.
I was swimming at Tuncurry rockpool; a beautiful little beach that I swim most days since my sea change. There is a net across the beach that isn't shark proof; it's there to keep people being dragged out to sea. Thank goodness!
The photo and video below is one I took of the rock pool recently and if you look closely, you can see a dolphin had somehow managed to make its way into the rockpool past the net.
Because the beach was busy today with many people enjoying the summer weather I felt quite safe. As usual I plunged straight into the water to feel that exhilaration when the cold takes your breath away.
I swam out towards the net.
I usually don't go that far as I'm not the strongest swimmer and I have a shark phobia. As I was enjoying my swim, the water was still quite shallow because it was low tide. In fact I could still stand, but then all of a sudden I couldn't stand and I was being dragged out to the far right side of the rocks.
The more I tried to swim back in nothing happened. I wasn't panicked at this stage, in fact I was a bit oblivious that I was in trouble at all, until I started to become tired. Then I noticed a crowd of people watching me and someone yelled out "are you ok?"....and the answer from me, was, "yes I think so" and before I knew it I was yelling out "no, I need help" but I was still quite calm. I remembered in any dire situation it is best to try and stay calm and focus. Take a mental note of that!
People were shouting at me that I needed to swim with the rip and go towards the net and then drag myself along it to safety. This terrified me as I did not want to go further out, I just wanted to get back to the shore, and this was when I started to get scared! I did what I was advised and when I reached the net, I had to hang on tight because my body was going under it, and my feet were getting caught in the net itself; that's when I started to panic. The current was so strong the net was horizontal. I always thought nets were pegged into the sand! Good grief could I be more wrong?
I was being coached by the crowd to take my time, stay calm and pull myself along the net to the middle where there was no current. This is when I thought the lifesavers would come and get me...or anyone, but that did not happen! What was probably just minutes seemed like forever, until a very kind gentleman swam out to the middle of the net where it was safe to help me get back to safety. He encouraged me to stay calm and keep pulling myself to the middle of the bay.
I'm glad to say I'm still around to write this article. It's certainly given me a shake up and I hope that anyone who reads this, remembers never to be complacent around water.
The video below is one I took that demonstrates the strength of the current over the net. Sorry about the poor quality it is from an Instagram story I did.
It's worth mentioning that there is a yellow sign alerting to strong currents, but to be honest I never really noticed it, it certainly doesn't scream danger. Probably a big red warning sign on the far right side of this rockpool would be in order "Danger, Keep away from this area - strong current" and another "Parents keep watch of children at all times". Just my two cents worth.
NOTE: Since writing this post I went to Google and researched people who have nearly drowned in rips on the beach. I was more in a bay rather than the beach. The rips on Nine Mile Beach, close to where I live, are very dangerous. Did you know that sometimes calm waters could actually be dangerous? Never take the ocean for granted, it is far more powerful than you.