Fun in, and respect for, Lake Michigan and rip currents.

I have been swimming in Lake Michigan as well as many other bodies of water in my favorite state for over 40 years. I have heard many times about rip currents and the dangers thereof, but until yesterday I never really experienced the power of one (them?) firsthand.

In an effort to beat the heat Julie, Amy, and I headed out to the beach at Grand Haven State Park yesterday. It was WINDY and the waves were rockin' as you can see from these pictures. Naturally the red flag was out which means No Swimming. There were a lot of people on the beach by the afternoon, and there were a good number of us who had to get in the water - red flag notwithstanding.


Amy and I went in. You can see our heads in this picture to the left of the white swim area marker - (my head is kind of sticking out of the head of the guy with his back to us in the picture). Anyway, the waves/current were powerful enough to knock me on my keister a couple times. They were also powerful and big enough for me to body surf quite satisfactorily.
That same power was enough to pull a swimmer waaaay off course. Normally I like to swim out much further that where I am in this photo - about twice as far out - the bottom drops off to 6-8 feet deep around the white marker but if you keep going out, then you encounter a sort of sand bar that runs parallel to the beach (see where the waves are breaking behind us?) and the water is back to 4-6 feet deep again.
Anyway I thought I might try swimming straight out to that area where the waves were first breaking to see if I could body surf out there. Michael Phelps I am not - but I am a competent swimmer and fairly strong. I was swimming a combination of freestyle and a breast stroke and in my mind's eye was swimming straight out or "west". NOT. I hadn't gone very far when I looked back at the beach for a reference and could see that the current had pulled me three or four feet "north" for every foot I went "west". If I floated, then I was moving "north" quite rapidly.
Message received - went back to the 4-6 foot deep water and contented myself with playing around there. After going in the water three times yesterday several muscles in my shoulders and upper back let me know of their existence this morning!
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