Hi. My name is Bill Proenza and I am the Director for the Southern Region of the National Weather Service. My experience with rip currents is first hand.
At the age of 11, I was swimming off the Florida Coast, near Key Biscayne, and found myself carried into deep water. I tried to swim toward shore but to no avail. After being pulled under the water once, I called for help. Fortunately, an experienced swimmer pulled me to safety.
Following this event, I took lessons through the Red Cross swimming program. While the program helped me improve my swimming ability, it did not offer much insight on handling what we called “undertows” (rip currents). Nevertheless, the training did pay off two years later, when I had the chance to save a man who was trapped in a rip current, again off Florida’s east coast. I noticed him struggling in the water and crying out for help. I swam behind him and managed to push him at an angle toward the shore. He told me he couldn’t swim but found himself drawn into deeper and deeper water.
It is my hope that you take these safety rules and the dangers of rip currents to heart. If you do so, your trips to the coast should be pleasant, enjoyable and safe for you, your family and friends.
– Bill, Florida
Originally posted on http://www.nws.noaa.gov/ripcurrents/real_life.shtml
I do not normally comment but its EXTREMELY important to know that UNDERTOW and RIP CURRENT are to very DIFFERENT THINGS and there should be a high degree of respect pit towards knowing the difference thought I really enjoyed your commen.