Rip currents arrive along with Oceanfront lifeguard championship

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — On Wednesday, more than a thousand lifeguards from around the country will take part in the 2014 Nautical USLA National Lifeguard Championships at the Oceanfront. There will be many eyes on the risk of rip currents.

The sun seemed to play hide and seek in Virginia Beach on Tuesday, but the surf is here to stay for a few days — as are the red flags.

“We’ve put the red flags up because we’ve seen the surf starting to build, wave heights getting bigger, winds are picking up a little bit, so we’re going to see an increased chance of rip currents throughout today and into tomorrow,” said Tom Gill with the Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service.

Near 28th Street, Oceanfront lifeguards kept swimmers close to shore. Only surfers and boogie boarders were allowed further out. On 15th Street, Melia Zenkel kept a close eye on her kids, as well.

“There are stronger undertows, the waves are sucking them out a little more than it was yesterday, so, makes you nervous,” Zenkel said.

Marlene Mularski got a taste of those waves, first hand: “Just going in even ankle high, it’s not so much the tide coming in, but coming out is even stronger, so it’s just gonna pull you out from under your feet.”

“You should always be swimming near a lifeguard no matter what you’re doing,” Gill said.

And this week that won’t be too difficult, with the multitude of lifeguards heading to the Oceanfront. 10 On Your Side asked Gill if the weather will bring conditions too risky for the competition to go on.

“It shouldn’t effect it, but again, we’re going to assess the safety of our competitors just like we do with our patrons who come out to the beach, and they’re safety is going to be our number one priority,” he said.

The event runs tomorrow through August 9, along 24th Street and Atlantic Avenue. While you’re there, you can pick up the Virginia Beach Lifeguards 2015 calendar. The money raised will benefit the association’s campaign to educate people about ocean safety.

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