Some authorities said the spate of swimmers being swept away seemed unprecedented. In the Long Island community of Long Beach, where two people drowned and another disappeared, Police Lt. Bruce Meyer said he "cannot recall there ever being back-to-back situations like this."
The rough seas were due to a strong storm system that brought 8-foot waves to the area earlier this week, National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Connolly said.
The risk of rip currents during the weekend was "moderate," meaning stronger and more frequent instances could be expected and "only experienced surf swimmers should enter the waters," Connolly said.
On Friday, the rip current risk was "moderate to strong."
In Long Beach, a swimmer or surfer died Saturday after he was spotted struggling about 150 yards from shore, Meyer said. Another man drowned at the same beach Friday while playing football in about 3 to 5 feet of water after lifeguard hours. A teenager playing with him was missing.
Also on Long Island, 42-year-old man died Saturday afternoon after swimming at a beach near the ocean in East Quogue, said Southampton Town police.
A fourth swimmer drowned Friday afternoon at Sandy Bar Beach on Long Island's East End.
Also missing was a 23-year-old man swept away off Jacob Riis Beach in Queens on Friday. Authorities called off the search after looking for him for 23 hours, the Coast Guard said.
A friend who had tried to save him was rescued by firefighters. Authorities also rescued a man swimming off Coney Island.