Tragedy struck at the beach in Seabrook, New Hampshire earlier this week.

A married couple from Methuen, Massachusetts were caught in a rip current along with four other swimmers on Sunday. According to, 49-year-old Michael Cote and 47-year-old Laura Cote were pulled unconscious from the water and died.

Although they are commonly referred to as riptide, a rip current is actually more accurate. But what is a rip current? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website, rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water that are prevalent along the East, Gulf, and West coasts of the U.S., as well as along the shores of the Great Lakes.

NOAA says a rip current moves at speeds of up to eight feet per second. That's faster  than an Olympic swimmer. So what should you do if you get caught in a rip current?

Well first of all, don't fight it! Swim parallel to the shore and swim back to land at an angle. Here's what to do step-by-step if you're caught in a rip current, according to the Art of Manliness...

Don’t panic. Feeling like you’re getting swept out to sea can be terrifying. But try to keep calm. Rip currents won’t pull you under — they’re just channels of moving water. And while they can extend a ways out, they do eventually dissipate, most within 50-100 feet of the shoreline. So you’re not going to wash up on the shores of a deserted island with only a volleyball for a friend.

Don’t try to swim against the rip. Deaths that result from riptides aren’t caused by the current pulling someone under; instead, the person typically panics, starts trying to swim against the rip to get back to shore, becomes exhausted, and drowns. An 8-feet-per-second riptide is so strong that not even Michael Phelps could swim against it. Don’t kick against the pricks.

Swim parallel to the shore. Instead of swimming against the rip current, you want to swim perpendicular to it, in either direction. Rip currents are typically only 20-100 feet wide. Once you leave the rip, swim at an angle away from it towards the shore.

Go with the flow. If you don’t have the swimming skills or energy to swim out of the rip, float on your back and go with the current. Just imagine you’re taking a spin on the Lazy River at the water park you went to as a kid. Once the rip current dissipates, you can do the parallel swim thing or try to signal to the lifeguard or someone else that you’re in need of help.


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