Lake Michigan’s long, thin shape and sandy beaches make it conducive to hazardous rip currents — more than any other Great Lake. Large waves start at the top of the lake and travel a long distance before crashing onto the shores at the bottom.
Rip currents form when these large waves push water up against a beach repeatedly. Eventually, enough water accumulates, and it forces its way back out into the lake. Like a leak in a dam, the outlet for the water becomes a rushing river — in this case a river within a lake.
Difficult to see, a rip current is very powerful and can easily overwhelm even the most experienced and strong swimmer who tries to battle against it. If you are ever caught in a rip current, don't panic and don't try to swim toward shore. Let the current carry you, and swim parallel to the shoreline. Slowly you will move out of the current and into calmer water, where you can swim to safety.