It was the middle of the summer and one of those days where the sun’s heat was relentless. Despite all that, my Dad urged me to go on an afternoon jog with him. As we finished our run at the north side of the island, where Sunset Park meets the Military Base, we were covered in sweat and in dire need of water.
As we both drank generously from the water fountain, my dad suggested we take a dip in the ocean. I only hesitated for a split second before a smile spread across my face. “Okay, let’s do it,” I exclaimed. But before I could take action, my Dad broke out into a sprint towards the beach, yelling behind him, “Last one there’s a rotten egg!” Laughing uproariously, I ran after him as fast as I could.
Once we reached the shoreline, we removed our shoes and shirts (I was in a sports bra, don’t worry) and headed for the water. As my toes and feet entered the water, I remember thinking ‘holy crap! It’s cold!’ but I didn’t care. We had run full speed ahead, completely submerging our bodies under water.
The initial shock of the ice cold water had passed and now we were floating casually through the ocean. Moving our legs like egg-beaters, trying to stay afloat, just like I learned when I was a kid. We were proud of ourselves for how well we were treading water while goofing around doing acrobatic tricks and flips.
Next thing we know, several lifeguards were swimming towards us. We looked away from the shore, expecting to see some people further out in the ocean that needed rescuing. But oh no, they were heading directly for us. Not until they arrived did we know that we had been caught in a rip current. The current had taken us at least 100 yards further down the beach from where we had started.
At the time, I remember feeling mortified. That was probably because I knew the lifeguard - a kid that was a few years younger than me in school. Despite my embarrassment, my Dad kept me laughing as we were escorted to safety via lifeguard and bright orange rescue paddles. When we arrived back at the beach, we were told that should we end up in that situation again, that swimming sideways, parallel with the shoreline is how to exit a rip current.
I will never forget that day and the laughter that surrounded it. A great memory shared with my Dad and a very important and useful tip for ocean safety. Be safe this summer and be aware of your surroundings.