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Should I swim at unpatrolled beaches?

The advice we give is NOT to swim at unpatrolled beaches; it is our responsibility as water safety providers to inform the Australian public to swim at patrolled locations only, however it is SEA Australia’s commitment to better educate people as to why people are asked to swim at patrolled locations.

We trust that our programs, blogs and website information, have assisted in educating all Australians to be safe on our beaches

We hear it all the time, only swim between the red and yellow flags, a great message however is it resonating with all Australian communities? In reality, most of our population will swim at an unpatrolled location at some point, simply because most of the coastline is not patrolled; particularly outside of the summer holiday period.

If you must swim at an unpatrolled beach, please understand that you are taking a risk.

Firstly check if there are surfers in the water, as surfers have a floatation device attached and perform most of the rescues on our beaches in the first instance, because they are already in the water.

Make sure you find the largest available sand bank - indicated by the broken waves or whitewater. The waves should be even with each other and with the shoreline, and the whitewater should travel all the way to the shoreline. This will indicate the sand bank is stable right through to the shore and shallow enough to be safe, all the water is pushing toward the beach.

If the whitewater stops at any point this indicates the water has become deeper and may be moving in another direction like a rip. Keep to the middle of the sand bank away from any rips, which will exist on either side of the sandbanks.

There will always be deeper water and rips adjacent to rocks and headlands, however areas at each end of the beach are generally more favorable and safer for swimming due to larger and more stable sandbank, as opposed in the middle of the beach

safer beach for swimming
This is a safe stable sandbank, people may view the waves as hazardous (which they are not), the water all the to shore is shallow and heading inward

dangerous beach for swimming
These sandbanks are not consistent enough to provide safety for swimmers, any blue areas between the whitewater indicates deeper water that is probably moving away from the shoreline

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