Water sport is, in its broadest sense, all kinds of recreation in, or on, a body of water, typically at a beach.
In some countries the shoreline is regarded as public, even when landowners normally can restrict entry to their lands. In the Nordic countries, the right of access generally gives access to the shore, except by people's homes and cottages. But there are also countries where swimming is restricted to organized beaches.
Swimming and diving
Boating and surfing
There are several precautions for everyone approaching open water, whether for a casual dip, or a long-distance swim.
- Respect laws and customs for clothing. Each country has its own acceptable level of nudity; naturism is, in the typical case, an exception.
- Respect wildlife.
- Don't litter. Ideally, leave no trace.
Depending on the area, there may be several dangers involved in swimming and other activities by the beach, such as tides, currents, wildlife and seabed features, some not obvious. Unless at an organized beach, you should seek local advice.
- At ocean beaches there are often currents that can take a swimmer out to sea, caused by tides or waves (even in still weather). Areas within a mile of straights have pronounced rip currents, and may have drop-offs due to constantly changing topography.
- Fishing nets, submerged trees and other obstacles.
- Quicksand and other seabed features.
- Jellyfish, sharks and other wildlife
- Tsunamis and storms
Also remember that if somebody is going to drown because of fatigue, inhaled water or a heart attack, he or she will not have any opportunity to scream, but will just disappear – contrary to what you see on TV. Keep a close look at least on children. Swimming in pairs is a good way to make sure everybody is being watched by somebody at all times.
The warnings on some floating devices, that they may only be used under supervision, are not exaggerated: e.g. swim tubes can turn upside down, creating a very dangerous situation, or take a child to deep water where the child may slip out of it. Proper lifebuoys are differently constructed.
Rip-currents are returns flow from waves breaking off the beach, often at a reef or similar. Due to the underwater topology the return flow is concentrated at a few deeper sections, and a fast current to deep water may form there. Most deaths happen as result of fatigue trying to swim back against the current, which may be impossible. Instead either swim in parallel to the shore, i.e. perpendicular to the current, or just wait it out (calling for help), as it loses its force outside the surf zone. As soon as you get out of the current, swimming back is no more difficult than normally. Try aiming somewhere where you are not caught again or, depending on your skills and on whether you have been noticed, you might want to wait for rescue.
If somebody disappears, watch the point of disappearance closely while calling for help. If others can help, it is better that you direct the help to the right location than that also you lose it by getting distracted.
Unless you have rescue training or are rescuing a small child, always have some device between you and the victim; a person scared of drowning can drag you into the deep. Have a look for possible aids already when arriving: lifebuoys, oars, poles, surfboards etc.