Lifeguards watching crowds, rip currents this Memorial Day - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Lifeguards watching crowds, rip currents this Memorial Day

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Thousands of people flocked to the beaches Monday to take advantage of the warmest day of the holiday weekend. But despite the warm and sunny weather, strong rip currents and big waves are creating a dangerous situation for swimmers.

Although the beaches are very crowded, rough conditions are keeping many people out of the water. Lifeguards say they are not fully staffed at their summer levels yet, so when you come to the beach, you may want to walk up to the tower and ask the lifeguards where it's safe to swim.

"Right now we are warning people to stay where they can touch the bottom and also swim near lifeguard towers that are open," Sgt. Mike Cranston said.

With rip currents whipped up into a frenzy, Ivan Morales and his friends are following that advice to the letter. Last summer Ivan was swept away by a rip current and had to be rescued by lifeguards.

"I was like screaming for my friends and that's when they told the lifeguards… that's why I don't go deep anymore," Ivan said.

Sunday night around 7:45, a beachgoer in Oceanside near the pier reported seeing a swimmer in distress. Lifeguards and the Coast Guard searched throughout the night for a dark-haired man reportedly wearing a full wetsuit.

"We've come up with approximately 38 hours of survivability with this wetsuit, so we will continue to search as long as we feel we'll be able to find him," Allyson Conroy of the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard says no one has been reported missing in Oceanside. Although the witness could have been mistaken, the seas are rough.

A Memorial Day swim in La Jolla had lifeguards keeping a close eye even on the most experienced swimmers.

"We stay together, you know, we always get a partner, but they told us to wave in case anybody gets into distress," swimmer Terry Martin Duvel said.

Using the buddy system and swimming near lifeguards, or not at all, is this year's Memorial Day message.

"It's going to be dangerous all day, but it gets more dangerous with the outgoing and the low tide," Cranston said.

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