Safety Rules for swimming in the ocean
Many people think that big waves are most dangerous thing in the ocean for swimmers. But they are not. When a big wave crashes, there is a strong white foam that will push you to the shore. Simply speaking, the waves themselves will not let you get close to them, and will constantly push you ashore. This might involve some tumbling, sand dragging, and other fun stuff, but ultimately you will be ok.
Now let's look at the real threat when swimming in the ocean - reverse currents, also known as rip currents.
Essentially, in certain places near the coast there is a current flowing toward open ocean. It is not wide (up to 20-40 meters) or long (up to 100-200 meters), but often very strong. It is often difficult to swim against it even on a surfboard.
Rip currents occur when the water coming with rolling waves flows back to the ocean. It can drag you into the ocean.
Usually, unprepared people do not notice this current and decide to enter the water from this point because there are no waves and it seems safe. The next thing that happens is that a person is picked up by the current and is carried into the ocean. After a few minutes, a person notices that he is farther from the shore than they thought, panics, turns around and starts to swim back hard to the shore. Swimming directly against the current is useless, because the current is still stronger than the strongest of swimmers! It is clear that in a few minutes this unprepared person's strength is running out, and fear and panic are only growing, because they are rowing as hard as they can, and the shore is only moving away! They look only at the shore, so the rolling waves (even small ones) constantly overwhelm them on the head, interrupting their breath. After some time, the person becomes exhausted and drowns. It is useless to shout, because of the noise of the waves on the shore will drown out the sound and only trained rescuers can notice that someone is drowning. Ordinary people may not notice or understand that a man is drowning.
Another dangerous nuance is that the reverse currents are highly dependent on the current wave size and tide. That is, you can visit a beach several times and everything will be fine, but the next day, at low tide or high, waves in the same spot will turn on a strong reverse current. You may still go swimming, not knowing that this familiar place suddenly became dangerous.
a powerful channel on the left side of Pandawa beach:
What do you do if you are caught in a reverse current?
The most important thing is not to panic. It is difficult, but it is what will save your life.
Next, you need to assess the situation. Understand in which direction you are carried, with what speed? Is there a dangerous wave size? Is there someone on the shore who can give a sign? Is there someone in the water (such as surfers), who can be called?
Then you should try to get out of the current by swimming parallel to the shore (perpendicular to the current). Calmly, methodically, just breathing for a few minutes to swim along the shore. Watch the waves! Dive under them. And keep an eye on whether you are moving relative to the shore. Use a landmark on the shore.
Then reassess the situation. Did you get out of the current? If you row to the right but have not advanced, try to row to the left of the channel. After a while, evaluate the situation again. Once you are out of the reverse current, just float calmly to the shore, using the waves to push you.
If there are surfers nearby, don't hesitate to ask them for help! Wave to them!
The rules that will allow an ordinary vacationer to swim safely in the ocean
1. The most important thing is to soberly evaluate your abilities.
If you are not a pro swimmer (this may not be enough! Even experienced swimmers drown because of their self-confidence), if you do not have special experience of swimming in waves, working with currents, competent assessment of the situation, then you should definitely choose only monitored beaches with safe areas marked with flags! Don't swim on the wild, empty beaches - there's nowhere to call for help!
If you swim, swim along the coast, not in the ocean and back!
Don't bathe in the water!
Do not swim after dark!
Try not to go swimming alone!
If you are of senior age and without experience in this regard, it is better not to go into the ocean at all. Swim in the hotel pool, seriously.
2. Assess the state of the beach and the sea.
Before bathing you should see if there are big waves today, if there are rescuers, where and what flags are, if there are other swimmers in the water, if there are a lot of surfers (do not swim next to them, they may accidentally hit you).
According to international rules, the safe zone for swimming is marked with a yellow and red flag. Yellow-red flags signify the area controlled by lifeguards, so only swim in the area between them.
The red flags mark the zone prohibited for bathing!
If you are not sure where to swim, ask the lifeguards, don't hesitate.
3. Keep an eye on the situation while bathing.
While you're swimming, keep an eye on the shore to see if you're being carried away. Swim along the beach, not into the ocean and back.
We hope this information will be useful for you. Be safe and have a great time in Bali!