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Extreme rip currents at Long Beach make it too dangerous to swim

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LONG BEACH, Long Island — Swimming was temporarily banned at Long Beach due to extreme rip currents Tuesday.

A sea of red flags up and down the Long Beach shoreline meant extreme rip currents were making it far too dangerous for swimming.

A rip current is a narrow, fast-moving channel of water that starts near the beach and extends offshore through the line of breaking waves. It's not a rip tide or an undertow, according to the National Weather Service.

"I am not going to open the beach and have many drownings because of this type of water," said Long Beach chief lifeguard Paul Gillespie.

The rip currents may have caused a 26-year-old Brooklyn man to drown Monday night while swimming after the lifeguards were off-duty.

A woman captured the rescue efforts on her cellphone.

"When you witness these things in person, it's just really true what they say," Maylan Studart, a Long Beach resident, told PIX11. "It's kind of traumatizing and I'm trying not to remember it."

Surfers were allowed to catch the waves, but swimmers were not because lifeguards aren't sure they know the four basic rules when caught in a rip current: stay calm, call and wave for help, float, don't fight the waves and swim parallel to shore.

"It's sad that we can't swim, but it's more important that we feel safe," said beach-goar Jenny Sanfratello.