Lifeguards: Watch out for powerful rip current as waves pound SoCal coast

Saturday, August 21, 2021
High tide, big surf pound SoCal coast
Lifeguards are warning of powerful rip currents on the SoCal coast. Here's how to stay safe if you get caught in one.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- Big waves and strong currents are again creating dangerous conditions along Southern California's scenic coastline.

While surfers are enjoying the high tides, lifeguards are warning beachgoers to be careful.

"We've had a pretty good summer I'd say," said surfer Gabriel Connolly. "In May and June and July we had a lot of really good swells."

No surfing for Shawn Foster. He's visiting Santa Monica from Missouri.

Some big waves already surprised his son, so they decided to take a break on the sand.

"This is a bit different. It's fun though, but as I was telling my son, he's smaller. An undertow will take him right in," Foster said.

Big waves, high tide leading to flooding along Orange County coast

Huge waves are spilling over berms and flooding coastal buildings in Orange County.

That's the bigger issue, lifeguards say. The powerful rip current can surprise people - even experienced swimmers.

"We've rescued some Olympic water polo players, people who are phenomenal swimmers," said county lifeguard Capt. Spencer Parker. "But when you're swimming against a rip current it doesn't matter how fast you are, it's like swimming up a river."

His advice, if you were to get pulled out by the current: Stay calm.

"Which is easier said than done, because you're in panic mode," Parker said. "But try to remain calm. if you feel like you're a strong swimmer and you want to swim out of it, don't swim towards shore. Try to swim parallel to shore.

"Get yourself out of the rip current first before you start going back to shore."

He says swimming parallel, or even just floating, can help save energy for when you get out of the current.

Or, on days like Friday, staying out of rough water could also mean simply staying on shore.