Northwards along Newgale Sands
Northwards along Newgale Sands by Richard Law is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Whether you live near the sea or are holidaying there, at some point you’ll want to hit the beach and then the water is going to look very inviting.

The good news is that it’s generally considered safe to swim at the beach. In most areas the water is calm and the risk of anything bad happening are very low. However, there are some things you should be aware of to minimize any risk and ensure it is safe to swim at the beach.


Surf Life Saving Australia rescues 8,064 people from the water every year. There are many reasons why people can get into trouble in the water, ranging from a rip current to simply getting out of their depth/comfort zone.

Even the best swimmers can experience cramps or be sucked into a current and get into trouble. The risk is higher if you don’t often swim in the sea, it is very different to swimming in a pool.

The bottom line is, to ensure it is safe to swim at the beach, go to one with a surf lifesaver.

Check Flags

Before you go swimming you should check the flags on the beach. These will be flying on any beach with lifesavers. The flags are red and yellow and tell you the beach is being looked after by surf lifesavers. Once you see the flags you will know it is safe to swim between the flags. This will be the calmest section of water and the area that the lifesavers are focused on.

In short, if you’re between the flags and get into trouble the surf lifesavers will quickly be there to help.

Understanding The Water

The risk of being attacked by any sea creature is extremely low. In fact, there are, on average 20 shark attacks per year with two fatalities in 2021. When you consider the tens of thousands of people that enter the water every year, you quickly realize that the risk is almost non-existent.

You need to be more aware of the water, specifically a rip current. These are bodies of water that form after being trapped by underwater sandbanks. When they find a way through the sandbank they create a rush of water that will drag you out to sea. A rip current can be hard to spot.

If you’re caught in one the most important thing is not to fight it, swim diagonally to get out of the current then raise your hand to attract help, the surf lifesavers will be ready for you.

Watch Children

It is best for anyone to swim with someone else, it increases the likelihood of being able to call for help and getting it. But, it is especially important to keep an eye on children. As mentioned, swimming in the sea is different to a pool, children can be easily overwhelmed and get into trouble.

It’s safest to go in the water with them. If you don’t, then keep a close eye on them.

The bottom line is it is safe to swim at the beach, providing you take reasonable precautions.