Eighteen swimmers had to be rescued over the weekend after getting caught in dangerous rip currents at the Isle of Palms County Park.

Officials say nine people had to be rescued by lifeguards Saturday and Sunday. In addition, 17 other swimmers had to be assisted, according to officials.

"We've got a lot of rip currents forming out here as a result of a gully that kind of runs, I don't know how long it is. I would say over a mile down the beach,” park assistant manager Cole Thomas said.

Thomas says beach goers can't be blamed for getting caught in the current. 

"It's hard to recognize, you can't find it," she said. "At high tide, you can't see it. It's not a very visible rip current."

Keeping that in mind, officials have warning signs posted at lifeguard stations and beach access points, telling folks what to do if they get into trouble while swimming. When possible, firefighters patrol the beach, to warn swimmers about the riptides.

Thomas says the best advice is to be extremely careful, and that weak swimmers shouldn't go past waist deep in the water. She says there's no telling when the rip current threat will go away.

"It all depends on Mother Nature to be honest. If we get some bad Nor'easters over the Winter, it forms these gullies and things, and then we get a significant storm, it could fill them in and could possibly make them worse,” she said.

Isle of Palms Fire Chief Ann Graham says county lifeguards alone have either rescued or assisted 43 swimmers since May 4.

Right now, lifeguards are stationed at the county park only on weekends. They will be there seven days a week starting with the Memorial Day Weekend and continuing through the Summer.

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