Swimmers at the many Clarence Valley beaches need to be mindful of stronger than usual ocean conditions this weekend.
Swimmers at the many Clarence Valley beaches need to be mindful of stronger than usual ocean conditions this weekend. Debrah Novak

Big swells mean big risks

THIS week's big swell that left two beachgoers missing at Byron Bay and Southwest Rocks is a reminder to stay on top of ocean conditions.

Yamba Angourie Surf School owner Jeremy Walters said swimmers hitting the coast in the Clarence Valley needed to understand how rips worked to stay safe.

Mr Walters said if the waves were big, more water would be moving around and rips would be stronger; if the waves were small, the rips would be weaker.

He said to look for where waves were breaking because it indicated shallow water and where the waves would push a swimmer in.

"If waves are not breaking, the water is deep and could have a rip," he said.

"People tend to panic if they're caught in a rip.

"As soon as we panic, we lose our energy."

Relax, conserve energy and swim sideways into breaking waves to get to shore, he advised.

Iluka-Yamba Marine Rescue unit commander Doug Luckie said everyone was playing it safe in the weeks big conditions and stuck to shore.

"The weather is settling down quite a bit," he said.

"It's beautiful and calm at the moment and conditions should improve over the next couple of days."

HOW TO SPOT DANGER AREAS

For swimmers

  • Look for breaking waves - they mean shallow water and a safer place to swim. Unbroken waves mean deeper waters and the potential for rips
  • If caught in a rip, swim sideways into breaking waves

For boaties

  • Check the weather forecast and tides before heading out - bars tend to be rougher at low tide
  • Contact Marine Rescue base before heading out so they can keep track of you and help in an emergency


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