The most memorable trip that I have taken with my family was recently when we went to Assateague National Park. Assateague, Maryland’s only ocean park, is most famous for its wildlife and is home to many species of engendered birds, and wild horses. My family enjoys going to Assateague for the tranquil beach and the beautiful scenery.
The day began as a normal day at the beach; my brother and I ran into the Atlantic Ocean. After about 30 seconds I decided that the water was too cold, so I began to turn back. As I walked towards the shore a crab snapped at my leg, I jumped up and swam away from the crab, unbeknownst to me, into a powerful ocean rip current. According to the National Weather Service rip currents “are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. [That] typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves.” (http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov/). For about two minutes I continued to try to swim towards the shore, but as I swam the shore got farther and farther away. As what felt like 30 minutes went by, I started yelling, “Help!” to my brother who was on the shore. I screamed for help about 15 times, but without my glasses all I could see was the blurry light brown shore getting farther and farther away. At this point, I began to swim parallel to the shore. I turned my body parallel to the shore, and began to swim but the huge waves and current forced my body to face the shore. I realized that no matter what I did, I was staying in the water until I lost all strength and I drowned. As I sat in the cold water, treading water, I felt someone, something grab me. It was my father! He began to try to ride the waves back. I tried to explain that I had already tried to do that, and that it did not work but no words would come out. Eventually he realized that it was impossible and we began to swim parallel. We made no progress. Then just as all of my hope was gone, a surfer paddled towards my father and I. He asked us if we needed some help. I don’t even remember replying, the next thing I knew was that I was holding on to the mans surf board for dear life as we kicked towards the shore. Seconds later, three other surfers came to assist with the rescue. As we paddled back the surfers told my father and I that we had been stuck in a rip current. Eventually we were all able to get back to shore by paddling on the boards diagonally. When I got back on land I hugged my mom, aunt, and brother and sat on a beach chair staring out at the ocean that had just tried to swallow me up.
Every year rip currents claim the lives of over 100 people in the United States. It is important that every person learns to both identify a rip tide and survive being in one. When at the beach it is important to read all posted material about the beach conditions, especially if you are swimming with out a life guard, as I was. Ironically, as my family and I left the beach I read a sign that I had walked past on my way to the beach, it said that it was a “yellow flag day”, and that “beach goers should be on the look out for rip currents.”
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