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Everyone, no matter how strong a swimmer, should exercise extreme caution when swimming abroad. This is particularly important in developing countries where emergency services may not be readily available, or in locations where rip currents are a known danger, but is relevant everywhere as accidents involving water are one of the most common causes of death among young Americans abroad.
Remember that river and ocean currents have the potential to be swift and dangerous, which may be difficult for individuals from non-coastal areas (like Arizona) to recognize. There may be no lifeguards or signs warning of dangerous beaches. Also, in locations that experience heavy seasonal rains, currents can rapidly change in strength and speed.
If swimming is a part of your experience abroad: